Broker agrees to release 18 Global Business Solutions staff to rival.

Heath Lambert has confirmed the departure of 18 staff from its Global Business Solutions unit, GBS, to Arthur J. Gallagher.

In a statement the broker said the employees had joined Gallagher for an undisclosed sum. It is understood that the amount is greater than the price offered by Cooper Gay, who acquired elements of the business three weeks ago as part of deal that saw the broker acquire Heath's reinsurance, aerospace and UK wholesale arm, FSJ.

The GBS departures include chief of the unit, Martin Emkes, and executive directors Ross Bridger and Neil Stewart. They will be taking up senior positions within the company, a spokesman said.

A spokesman for Heath said that less than 10 staff remained within the unit, whose future remained undecided.

She said: "We are looking at the options for redeploying their talents within the Group."

The statement said: "Heath Lambert [has] agreed to release, for an undisclosed sum, certain employees within its international wholesale division, Global Business Solutions, from their contractual restrictions to go to Arthur J. Gallagher International."

Heath Lambert chief Adrian Colosso added: “This represents the final stage in the achievement of our strategy to focus on our UK retail operations and speciality wholesale services.”

“This represents the final stage in the achievement of our strategy to focus on our UK retail operations and speciality wholesale services.

Adrian Colosso

Last year, a team from Heath's wholesale business, including managing director of its UK arm, FSJ, joined rival THB following reports of an unsuccessful takeover bid from the broker. Other members of the team subsequently defected.

In recent months Heath has also lost Hugh Champion, managing director of its facilities division, and Tom Ernoult, managing director of its National Division.

Commenting on the latest moves David Ross, chief executive for Arthur J Gallagher (UK), said: “We are delighted to complete this transaction with Heath Lambert. This team brings a broad range of expertise to our firm and further enhances the range of services which we are able to offer to our current and future clients.”

Following the sale of operations to Cooper Gay, Heath's brokerage now stands in the region of £100m.

Despite a 15 per cent reduction in wholesale premiums last year, the broker reported 2007 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £18.5m.

Heath Lambert has around 1600 employees in the UK, spread across over 20 locations.