Broker expects to ‘rubber stamp’ some of the deals within weeks, says chief executive

Lloyd’s broker Cooper Gay is considering a dozen potential acquisitions as it looks to add to its previous deals.

Toby Esser, Cooper Gay’s chief executive, said the broker was currently eyeing up to 12 deals and expected to rubber stamp some of the acquisitions “within weeks”.

“We are certainly looking very long and hard at the individual deals,”he told Insurance Times.

The development came after Cooper Gay announced its results for the financial year ending 31 December 2008.

The broker reported income of £83m, up 22% from £68.1m in 2007. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 15% to £18m compared with £15.6m in 2007.

Esser said that prices for acquisition targets had lowered slightly, allowing the company to push on with the deals. “They are a little bit more sensible than they were,” he said.

He denied that the company’s acquisition strategy had taken a back step during the financial crisis. Last year the Lloyd’s broker secured a £31.6m senior debt financing facility with National Australia Bank as well as a £15.4m equity injection from its major investor, the Sonae Group, which saw Sonae’s share-holding in the company more than double from 13.68% to 32.12%.

Esser said that more funding was available if needed.

He added that the broker was not looking for acquisitions outside its present business areas and that its strategy was to continue to target complementary wholesale, MGA and reinsurance businesses in the UK and the United States.

Last year, 10 members of Benfield’s Wholesale and Direct Aviation team joined Cooper Gay six months after it bought the aerospace, reinsurance and UK wholesale divisions of Heath Lambert. Cooper Gay also completed the 100% purchase of its Canadian MGA, Creechurch International Underwriters.