First commercial broker purchase will provide springboard for group’s UK strategy

IAG UK continued the trend of insurers buying brokers this week with the purchase of Barnett and Barnett.

The Isleworth-based broker controls £25m in gross written premiums and has developed specialisms in the transport, technology, construction and franchising sectors. An IFA subsidiary concentrates on wealth management and corporate business.

The purchase price was not disclosed. Barnett and Barnett's insurance broking operation reported revenues of £3.1m in 2007, producing a pre-tax profit of £480,000, according to documents filed at Companies House. The business will sit alongside the other IAG UK brands, which include Equity Insurance Group and Hastings Direct.

Neil Utley, IAG UK’s chief executive, said. “Barnett and Barnett will provide a springboard for broadening the depth of our existing commercial broking operation. It is the first acquisition in the commercial SME space. We have developed a successful partnership with Barnett and Barnett over a number of years, underwriting a substantial percentage of its personal lines and fleet accounts.”

IAG UK is keen to develop its commercial lines presence. The group already underwrites some SME classes through Equity Red Star and is looking to expand these further.

Equity Insurance Brokers also handles some commercial lines risks.

Utley said: “IAG is strong on SME in Australia. But [in the UK] Equity and Hastings are not as strong. It is an area we are looking at and are exploring all channels, direct and broker.”

Barnett and Barnett will retain its brand and the existing management team will continue to run the business. Barnett and Barnett managing director, Neil Campling said: “The opportunity to become part of IAG UK was too attractive to turn down. It will provide us with the resources and backing to become a major player in the UK commercial broking sector.”