Push on brokers' PI and Eastern Europe business at heart of expansion plans

Howden is targeting brokers' own professional indemnity (PI) as part of its aim to triple in size within five years.

Tim Coles, chief executive of Howden Insurance Brokers, said: "We are making a big push [in this sector] and are expecting rapid and aggressive growth."

He predicted that Howden would triple the size of its broker PI book by the end of the year.

In July, Howden extended its broker PI policy to cover costs incurred during FSA investigations, as part of a drive to increase sales.

Coles also said the company had "aggressive" plans to grow both organically and through acquisition.

He said Howden was "always on the lookout" for teams to acquire, whether in its current business specialisms of PI, directors' and officers' (D&O) and crime, or in new sectors. "We haven't ruled out expanding our classes in general liability, for example," he said.

The broker, which is the broking arm of Hyperion, reported a fee and commission income of £10m in 2004.

Coles added that Eastern Europe was presenting strong growth opportunities, saying Howden was already generating business from the area, and would either set up a local office or buy a producing broker.

He said: "The PI/D&O market is more sophisticated [than other lines of business]. Now is the right time for us to be in [Eastern Europe]."

Bragoli to stay at Hyperion
Howden has denied market speculation that Andy Bragoli, head of Howden International, has left the parent, Hyperion group.

It had been suggested that Bragoli was moving to a rival professdional indemnity broker.

But Tim Coles said Bragoli had moved to a different position within Hyperion to work on a "new project".

He added that a replacement was not being sought for his former role.

Coles said: "Our business has evolved and Andy is going to develop something new."