Consolidation of network arena gathers pace with acquisition of Plymouth-based Westinsure due to conclude this month.
Broker Network is understood to be close to completing a £10m deal for Westinsure, as revealed by insurancetimes.co.uk on Friday.
Sources close to Broker Network confirmed a deal had been struck and was set to conclude this month, if minority shareholders agreed to sell their stakes in the business. Broker Network is understood to have entered into exclusive talks with Westinsure last month.
However, Westinsure refused to confirm a deal was happening, and declined to comment at the time of going to press. Broker Network also declined to comment.
Last month, Broker Network chief executive Grant Ellis confirmed that the company had held talks to buy Westinsure (News, 14 April). A number of other parties, including Cobra, Broker Direct and AXA have also been linked to the network. In January, Westinsure chief executive Denis Morgan said the group was considering what he called strategic leaps amid speculation that it had already approached rival networks about a sale.
Meanwhile senior market sources, including Ellis, have repeatedly said that consolidation within the network space would begin this year.
According to the latest figures, Westinsure currently controls more than £250m of gross written premiums from 140 members.
Though sources close to the matter had valued Westinsure at between £6m and £10m, a senior market source said that the £10m price tag was the result of inflated prices being paid for networks following Towergate’s £95m acquisition of Broker Network last year.
In a related development, Broker Network has added two members – and the third and fourth since its acquisition by Towergate – with the addition of Shropshire-based Beaumont Lawrence and EW Knapton in Darlington. In a statement it also said it was poised to sign up at least 20 more to its Associates programme, launched last month.
Mark Wood, managing director of Broker Network, said: “We are obviously pleased to welcome two new members to the network and delighted to see that our suite of propositions is offering solutions for all types of brokers, regardless of size and location. The continued uptake of our original membership offering along with response to Broker Network Associate is evidence of our understanding of the market and our leadership within it.”