Heath Lambert to sell wholesale business for £8m.

Heath Lambert ended months of speculation this week with the announcement that it is set to sell its wholesale business to broker Cooper Gay in a deal predicted by Insurance Times and believed to be worth in the region of £8m.

Heath Lambert released a statement this week saying it was in discussions with Cooper Gay over the possible sale of its international wholesale, reinsurance and aviation divisions. Last spring, it denied that any such deal was planned.

The company said if the negotiations conclude successfully, about 100 employees assigned to those divisions will be transferred to Cooper Gay.

Market sources said Cooper Gay has been looking for an acquisition target for some time. In a statement, chief executive Toby Esser said: "Discussions are at an early stage and any decision will be predicated on the successful completion of a formal due diligence exercise. However, I am excited by the additional skill-sets and geographical reach that we will be able to offer our clients, should our discussions reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

Heath Lambert is believed to have been on the market to offload part of its business for a long time. A senior source at a major consolidator said it had looked at Heath Lambert but decided against entering sale talks as the company’s head office costs were high and the type of business it focuses on is considered labour intensive.

A spokesman for the company said Heath Lambert has no intentions of selling any of its other divisions. The group posted an operating revenue for 2007 of £113m with its UK retail, personal lines and consulting and employee benefits contributing to 85% of its overall income.