Speculation of management buy-out ends after private equity owners decide to shake-up the business

Brokers have told of their surprise as the plug was finally pulled on Aspen’s UK-based managing general agency (MGA).

UK-based Aspen Risk Management Ltd (ARML) was put into run-off after private equity owners Apollo decided to shake-up the business.

There had been speculation that the Aspen MGA directors would attempt a management by-out – but the run-off decision finally extinguished that talk.

The news raised eyebrows among brokers at the Biba Manchester conference this week who had business with the MGA.

One broker, who did not want to be named, said he was surprised to hear of the decision.

He had mid-market business with Aspen and it would take some work to find a new home for some of the outstanding policies.

Competitive market

Brokerbility chairman Ashwin Mistry said: “We are aware the market is very competitive, especially in some areas such as construction.

Mistry said the Aspen MGA was a good business and it was a ‘shame’ that the decision had been taken – but it was the reality of operating in business.

“Insurers who might be tempted to say ‘this is what you get’, should look in their own book,” he said.

It is understood that up to 111 roles are on the line. Aspen has not commented on what will happen to employees.

Mistry said that some Aspen customers would be on a three-year deal, and for those early into their agreement, it would require some work to find a new home.

The decision will not impact the mainstream UK property and casualty business, Aspen said. 

The Aspen MGA was generally well regarded by brokers, offering a good blend of risk management and products, typically for mid-market customers.

It offered commercial insurance products including property, business interruption, employers, public and product liability. 

It also offered directors’ and officers’, professional indemnity, computer all-risks and breakdown, cyber, privacy and media cover as well as engineering breakdown.

Management changes

Mark Cloutier, executive chairman and group chief executive officer, said: “As we continue our focus on operational improvement and strengthening Aspen’s competitive position, it is essential we have the right talent to execute our strategy, serve brokers and customers and drive to enhance the long-term value of our business.”

Changes to management are as follows: 

• Mike Cain, previously group general counsel, has been appointed group chief operating officer and will remain chief executive officer of Aspen UK for a transition period, subject to regulatory approval.

• Christian Dunleavy, in addition to this role as managing director of Aspen Re and chief underwriting officer of Aspen Bermuda ltd, has been appointed chief executive of Aspen Bermuda Ltd.

• Tim Aman, in addition to his role as group chief risk officer, will assume lead responsibility for outward reinsurance/Retro analysis, structuring and placement.

• Bryan Astwood, group chief investment officer, has been appointed to the group executive committee.

• Jonny Atkinson, in addition to his role as global head of insurance marketing and distribution, has been appointed head of insurance London.

• Marcus Foley, previously group head of capital management, has been appointed chief strategy officer, focused on developing and executing strategic corporate initiatives and performance analysis metrics and methods, and to the group executive committee.

• Paul Frydas, group chief actuary, has been appointed to the group executive committee.

• Silvia Martinez, previously associate group general counsel, has been appointed group general counsel and company secretary and to the group executive committee.

• Zahir Petiwalla, performance officer and chief operating officer, Aspen Re, has been appointed deputy group chief operating office.

• Sarah Stanford, international head of financial institutions, will be appointed to the additional position of Lloyd’s Active Underwriter of Syndicate 4711, subject to regulatory approval.

Aspen also announced the departure of Kate Vacher, who is leaving to pursue personal interests. She joined Aspen in 2002 and most recently served as group director of underwriting and chief executive officer of Aspen Bermuda Ltd. 

Aspen announced in the same release confirmation that it has begun the process of closing its Dublin office as a result of the proposed move of its Dublin Excess Casualty underwriting business to London.