Broker buys housing association sector broker Acumus, Woodstock buys Clear’s personal lines book, while Swinton snaps up Greys

David Ross, Gallagher chief executive

UK broking mergers and acquisitions continued this week with Arthur J Gallagher, Endsleigh-owned Woodstock Insurance Brokers and Swinton all signing buy-out deals.

Arthur J Gallagher has bought Chelmsford-based broker Acumus for an undisclosed sum. The retail broker provides risk consulting and insurance services exclusively for the UK housing association sector.

Acumus will keep its brand and office location, but will become part of Gallagher Heath, Gallagher’s London-based retail broker.

The company’s chief executive Huw Thomas, managing director Mark Evans and their associates will continue to run the firm.

Gallagher chairman and chief executive Patrick Gallagher Jr said: “The highly experienced team at Acumus will be a strong addition to our public sector practice and an excellent complement to our Gallagher Heath operations.” 

Woodstock Insurance Brokers has snapped up a personal lines book from Clear Insurance Management. The deal is Woodstock’s 30th in its 10-year history and gives the broker a book of 1,200 personal lines policies spread across household and motor insurance.

Woodstock Insurance Brokers general manager David Hadden said: “Over the past year, we have concentrated on organic growth. However, this transaction signals our intent to continue to grow Woodstock through obtaining part disposals of personal lines books.”

Clear Insurance Management deputy chief executive Gary O’Donnell said: “We are confident our clients will appreciate the wider offering [Woodstock] can provide.”
Meanwhile, Swinton has bought Greys Insurance, based in Burnley, Lancashire. Greys is mainly a commercial broker with almost £1m of gross written premium across its personal and commercial business.

Last week Insurance Times revealed that Towergate has entered an exclusivity period with Yorkshire Building Society, owners of Norwich & Peterborough Insurance Brokers with a deal to buy NPIB likely soon. Also, Ryan Specialty Group bought Direct Group, which had a brokerage of £18.9m for the year to January.

Talking points …

  • Gallagher is heavily on the acquisition trail. It is certainly a better time to buy than pre-2008 in terms of prices, but even so, how will chief executive David Ross know he’s getting value for money?
  • Swinton is growing its book in commercial SME and the Greys acquisition will help. What proportion between commercial and personal lines is it seeking?
  • What kind of multiples of earnings are being paid? The market talk is of an average between six and eight.