Cgu has won control of Hibernian, one of Ireland's leading composite insurers, in a deal worth more than IR£400 million.

Irish brokers should benefit from the move, since Hibernian channels 70% of its business through intermediaries.

CGU was able to announce it had a controlling 53% share of Hibernian last Thursday evening.

Among these were irrevocable acceptances from the Irish insurer's board of directors and two largest institutional investors, Munich Re and Bank of Ireland Asset Management, representing 25% of shareholders.

Added to this, CGU had built up a stake of 28% in the Irish insurer before launching its successful acquisition.

CGU tried to win over remaining shareholders by offering IR£7.60 a share. This represents a 60% premium on Hibernian's recent share price of IR£4.72. It values the company at IR£413m.

CGU said the acquisition would enable it to combine its general insurance business in the republic with Hibernian. CGU Ireland had a premium income in 1998 of IR£89m.

Hibernian is neck and neck with Axa in Ireland with approximately 19% each of the general insurance market.

Motor and household insurance is the largest part of Hibernian's business. Its net premium income for 1998 was IR£320m.

CGU chief executive Bob Scott said: "The combination of these two successful companies is expected to generate significant value for shareholders and benefits for customers."

Pat McGorrian, Hibernian chief executive, said the acquisition would cement an already close relationship between Hibernian and CGU.

"The merger is based on compelling strategic logic and will facilitate the provision of an enhanced range of products to an enlarged customer base through a broad range of distribution channels."

Shareholders are set to receive details of CGU's offer this week.