Insurer rumoured to have paid more than £80m for sought-after motorcycle broker

Groupama has bought motorcycle specialist Carole Nash, following months of speculation about the future of the Manchester-based broker.

The insurer would not disclose how much it paid for the company, although it was rumoured to have been upwards of £80m amid fierce competition.

Equity is understood to have been a strong contender to buy Carole Nash until it was acquired by Insurance Australia Group earlier this month. Rival motorcycle broker Bennetts and AXA had also been touted as potential buyers.

Groupama confirmed it had fought off competition to acquire Carole Nash, which it described as the "perfect" buy.

Carole Nash is one of the UK's top 30 brokers with over 240,000 policyholders. It reported a commission income of £25.3m in 2005.

Paul Picknett, the insurer's corporate services director, said the broker would be an independent subsidiary of Groupama UK, sitting alongside Groupama Insurances.

"It is a very successful business, with its own model which works well. We want to build on that success," said Picknett.

He added: "This is an important strategic acquisition which will give us access to a niche market."

As well as acquiring Carole Nash's broking business, Groupama UK will also control the broker's bike repair service, CN Repair, motorcycle security service, CN Secure, and CN Servicing and MOTs.

Asked whether Groupama would make further acquisitions, Picknett said the insurer would continue to "investigate further investment opportunities".

Groupama UK was given the green light by its French parent at the end of 2005 to begin making acquisitions.

Managing director François- Xavier Boisseau said at the time: "We are reviewing our strategy to see how we can strengthen our position. We are not ruling anything out."