Broker looks to acquire teams and brokers to double UK size

Arthur J Gallagher (UK) is looking to poach staff from rivals and acquire brokers in a bid to more than double the size of its UK broking division by 2010.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Arthur J Gallagher (UK) chief executive David Ross said Gallagher Global Risks (GGR), the company's primary broking arm, was also looking to achieve significant growth through building its binding authority business.

Ross said: "We are gearing up to be a significant broker in the London market. We can punch our weight with anyone."

Arthur J Gallagher (UK) is the 23rd largest broker in the Insurance Times Top 50 UK brokers list, with 2005 fee and commission income of £44.6m.

In April, the broker poached five senior executives from Lloyd's broker Monument, including its managing director Tim Smythe, to bolster its binding authority team.

Ross said the company was looking for further staff. "We have 12 producers currently on gardening leave. We are looking to recruit in areas where we feel we could be stronger."

Dominic Hagger, deputy chief executive added: "Medical malpractice is one area we are looking to strengthen."

The broker is looking to develop two areas - corporate client business and wholesale operations. Ross said the company intended to replicate the success its US parent had with wholesale business.

"We want to recreate this model in the UK and Europe and find niches for markets that insurers find difficulty getting into. We aim to expand our product range."

He said the ex-Monument team would "diversify" GGR's European binding authority capability. GGR would initially focus on developing its wholesale business in the UK and Irish markets during 2006, then target Europe and further afield.

Hagger said GGR was looking to develop products in Ireland, including motor. "We already cover most products, we are trying to package them together for the Irish market."

Ross added: "A core part of Gallagher is to partner with brokers internationally, to develop our product network."

On acquisitions, Ross said there was "no cap" on the size of broker that Gallagher would buy. "The perception is that we only buy small businesses. We buy only businesses that fit with our core strategy and culture."

The company is looking at London market acquisitions. Asked whether the company would look at Heath Lambert or JLT, Ross said: "We wouldn't want to buy a business that would take three or four years to integrate".