Norwich Union makes strategic investment of £5.7m in broker.

Brightside has completed the acquisition of Group Direct and its associated companies, and Injury QED.

The move, which follows a General Meeting of shareholders on Friday 27th June at which all resolutions in relation to the acquisition were passed, was confimed in a statement to the stock exchange this morning.

The Brightside acquisition includes a strategic investment from Norwich Union of £5.7m, and £4.9m from Stena Investments, one of Sweden’s largest companies.

The statement said the investment would allow the Group to strengthen its balance sheet and accelerate growth plans for further organic and acquisitive growth.

Dr Chris Fay has become the new non-executive chairman of Brightside. Fay was the former chairman and chief executive of Shell UK, and is currently non-executive chairman of Expro International and Stena International.

Paul Chase-Gardener, current chairman of Group Direct, becomes the new Group chief executive of Brightside.

Group Direct, which was founded by Arron Banks and John Gannon in 2001, is one of the largest SME brokers in the country with 2007 revenues of £23.3m and EBITDA of £4.4m. The Group covers a range of products including van, fleet, motor trade, taxi, minibus, business car, commercial combined, property and personal lines.

Banks said: “This marks the beginning of an exciting new phase in Group Direct’s and Brightside’s development, and our prospects going forward are far and wide.

"The new investment from Norwich Union and Stena gives the Group the resources to significantly develop the broking and finance business, and it bodes well for our future.”