Venture capitalist sees ‘strong flow of new opportunities’ to invest in insurance market

Specialist insurance venture capital firm BP Marsh made a profit after tax of £1.7m in the six months to 31 July 2014, up 21% on the £1.4m it made in the same period last year.

The net asset value of BP Marsh’s investment portfolio, which the company views as its main performance measure, increased by 5% to £59.8m (H1 2013: £56.9m).

The company also said it had received a “strong flow of new opportunities” to invest in the insurance sector, both on the broking and underwriting agent sides of the business.

This is in addition to opportunities elsewhere in financial services, including retirement advisory, outsourcing and software-as-a-service.

During the first half, BP Marsh received 27 new investment proposals, of which 17 were in the insurance intermediary sector, which it considers one of its specialisms.

Chairman Brian Marsh said: “The interim period has been one of bedding in our most recent acquisitions, particularly our new investments in Australia.

“We consider this territory to present interesting opportunities for our investee companies located there in the coming months and years, given Australia’s increasing importance to the Lloyd’s of London market.”

During the first half, BP Marsh sold its stakes in four businesses of Portfolio Design Group International for a total of £1.3m in cash.

On 29 May it subscribed to a portion of broking firm Trireme Insurance Group’s £1.2m rights issue, paying £400,000 for newly issued shares in the company, which comprises Oxford Insurance Brokers and James Hampden International Insurance Brokers.

After the reporting period, on 14 August, BP Marsh bought a 5% stake in London market MGA Nexus Underwriting for £1.6m.

The company’s biggest investment is in Lloyd’s broker Besso. It owns a 37.9% stake in the broker, which is worth £8.4m.

It also still owns a 2.5% stake in broking group Hyperion, after selling 80% of its stake to US private equity house General Atlantic in July 2013. The remaining stake is worth £7.3m.