Groupama is set to acquire UK healthcare insurer Clinicare in a move that will more than double the size of its healthcare book.

The insurer said that contracts had been exchanged with Clinicare's parent, Groupe Azur GMF, and approval by the FSA was awaited

The acquisition is the first since Groupama announced last month that it would begin to acquire businesses again, after emerging from its long period of restructuring

At the time, Groupama managing director François-Xavier Boisseau said the insurer would be looking at "smaller portfolios, provided they fit in with our strategy".

The insurer is currently engaged in a major push into the healthcare market following the restructuring of its distribution strategy in this sector.

At the end of the first half of 2005, Groupama's healthcare business was £34m in GWP. It is looking to achieve £100m in size in order to achieve "critical mass".

Groupama chairman and chief executive Pierre Lefèvre said: "Clinicare is an important acquisition that more than doubles our private medical insurance revenues in the UK.

"Importantly, it is absolutely in line with the group's strategy with regard to healthcare.

"It supplements our existing UK portfolio and we see a significant opportunity for profitable growth.

He added: "It offers the opportunity to create a substantial healthcare business that can truly offer a genuine alternative for intermediaries and customers in a market that is currently dominated by a handful of major players."

Groupama said that over the coming weeks the details of the new operating structure would be confirmed.