But chief executive Carl Shuker says private equity backers Equistone are ‘in no rush’ to sell

A-Plan chief executive Carl Shuker has confirmed that the broker’s private equity owner Equistone has hired investment bank Evercore Partners to advise on the sale of its stake.

Shuker’s confirmation follows recent news reports that Evercore was close to being hired to advise on a sale that could value A-Plan at £300m.

Speaking to Insurance Times about A-Plan’s latest annual results, Shuker said: “Evercore are engaged in helping us with exit options for our existing private equity investor.”

He declined to give specifics on the options or the time-frame of Evercore’s work, but added: “Equistone are in no rush and our relationship with them is very strong.

“Once Evercore have done their stuff we should be in a better place to discuss timelines and options.

“All private equity firms have a natural timetable in terms of investment and exit and Equistone is no different to anybody else. It has been invested in the business for six years. Now is the time to consider what its options are.”

Barclays Private Equity backed a management buy-out of A-Plan in 2008, in which management retained a 32% stake in the business.

The private equity house is now known as Equistone after its own management buy-out from Barclays in 2011.

‘Quietly pleased’

This morning A-Plan reported an 11% increase in profit after tax and a 10% increase in turnover for the year to 28 February 2014. This was despite tough market conditions and falling rates in its core area of personal lines motor and home insurance.

Shuker said: “All in all we are quietly pleased with the year.”

He said the performance was “very sustainable”, adding: “The branch network is an enduring model. We are not dependent on huge marketing spend to get up our enquiry levels. A lot of our enquiries come from word of mouth and recommendations, and we see those building.”