Latest move in insurer's review of distribution

AXA is streamlining its distribution channels after selling off Lloyd’s broker SBJ Global Risks in a management buyout (MBO).

The move comes just days after the French insurer revealed it was reviewing its partnerships with broker networks.

AXA originally snapped up SBJ Group, a mid-corporate insurer, in March last year and later absorbed it into its broking subsidiary, Bluefin.

The SBJ Group acquisition also included its specialist Lloyd’s broking arm, SBJ Global Risks, which has expertise in marine, property and bloodstock.

AXA Insurance chief executive Philippe Maso said that global risks did not fit with the AXA model and the MBO was the “right strategic solution for both companies”.

Maso told Insurance Times in March that even Bluefin was not immune to being sold off, but would be “very, very expensive”.

He said last week: “I believe this is a very positive development for SBJ Global Risks, its management and its staff. We have successfully integrated the other operations of SBJ into our distribution business which launched under the Bluefin brand at the beginning of January. SBJ Global Risks operates in a specialist market which needs to be operated within the appropriate structure.”

The MBO was led by chief executive Simon Rice and chairman Howard Steeples. The new board will include George Boden and Christopher Birrell, previously chief executive and finance director of SBJ. Rice said: “SBJ Global Risks has built a strong presence in the Lloyd’s and international insurance markets and this transaction will provide us with a platform to continue our profitable growth. AXA has been a very supportive owner and a great help in positioning us for independence.”

This is the latest development in AXA’s changing distribution strategy. As reported in Insurance Times, the company is expected to make an announcement on its network partnerships in the next four to six weeks.

Last month AXA pulled capacity on managing general agency Primary.