Broker buys Liverpool-based Powell Bateson and plans further purchases next year

Howden Broking Group has completed its first UK broker acquisition of 2014 as it gears up to expand into sectors it does not already have a significant presence in.

The broker has bought Liverpool-based company Powell Bateson, a mostly commercial broker that specialises in construction, property and risk management.

Howden chief executive Adrian Colosso (pictured) did not disclose how much the acquisition cost, but he told Insurance Times that Powell Bateson would enable Howden to grow its property and construction business, and give it in-house risk management expertise that it did not have before.

He said: “Earlier in the year we started a construction division. We already do property, but [Powell Bateson] brings a different dimension, a greater depth of knowledge and capability.

“Critically they are bringing risk management skills to the table for us. They are filling a need and expanding on what we have got.

“We will have those incredible wholesale transactional skills to complement our technical capabilities and general UK ability.”

Howden, which opened a branch in Cardiff earlier in the summer, is planning to make more acquisitions in the New Year as it plans to expand further in the UK. It also has offices in Wakefield and London and employs around 500 staff in the UK.

Colosso said: “We will only buy and hire people that fit – we have to have like minded people that are absolutely committed to client delivery.”

Powell Bateson has 23 staff and is managed by directors Eliot Powell and Karen Bateson. It has 385 clients: 295 commercial and 90 personal lines.

Powell and Bateson will continue to manage the Liverpool business.

The broker will retain its name in the short term, after which it will change to Howden.

Bateson said: “We need to position the business today to take account of the future direction of broking and risk management, acknowledging that the landscape is changing very quickly.

“To continue our success, our clients and prospects require a seamless proposal that combines excellent people, increasing international placement and scale. With Howden, we achieve that position overnight.”

The last major broker with a strong UK presence that Howden bought was professional indemnity broker Windsor in 2012.

According to parent company Hyperion, the purchase helped it to grow its UK turnover by 108% to £166.6m in 2013. Howden’s revenue grew by 67% to £125.7m (2013) an EBITDA by 21%.

The acquisition of Powell Bateson forms part of Hyperion Group’s wider strategy to grow its UK footprint.

Hyperion announced earlier this month that it was set to complete its acquisition of RK Harrison (RKH) by April 2015.

RKH has an annual turnover of £115.5m and is strong in high net worth, SME and property.

Following the RKH acquisition, Hyperion will have 11 offices in the UK.