Equity is now the largest insurance broker in Northern Ireland after purchasing Open + Direct (ODIS), which controls £46m of gross written premiums.

The deal, the first since the firm was acquired by Australian insurer IAG last year, will increase Equity Insurance Brokers' presence in Northern Ireland to 17 branches, adding to its network of JMW high street branches, and 900,000 policies, largely in private car, motorcycle, taxi and travel business.

But the deal does not include Footman James, which is being sold separately by Alchemy Partners to Aon, according to sources.

Equity Insurance Brokers managing director Nick Potts said: "We had hoped to seal this deal before Christmas, but it took longer as we were using money from our new parent IAG. Otherwise we would have borrowed money from our previous investors and then paid them back, which was impractical."

He said ODIS has a business split of around £30m GWP in its personal lines business and £16m GWP in commercial business, which includes employers' liability, public liability, SME commercial and motor trader products. ODIS generated income of £8.4m last year, he said.

The ODIS name will remain, said Potts, as its brand awareness was so strong in Northern Ireland and the management team led by managing director Gareth Brady would stay.

Brady will report directly to Potts. ODIS employs 136 staff in its eight branches.

Potts added: "Equity now has 77 branches across its UK network and we are looking at acquiring another 23 branches in the near future."