Giles Insurance is the name on brokers' lips now
The speculation in some quarters that Giles Insurance Brokers has its eyes on consolidator rival Oval underlines the fact that Giles is now very much the centre of attention in the regional broking market.
It wasn’t long ago that Towergate’s acquisition strategy and the purchases of AXA’s Venture Preference, dominated brokers’ discussions.
But with Venture Preference’s chief executive Stuart Reid tied up with integrating the acquired businesses, and Towergate’s acquisition war chest no longer looking as full as it once was, Giles has become the brokers’ favourite topic of conversation.
Obviously, this has a lot to do with the £500m or so in acquisition funds that Giles boss, Chris Giles, has secured from his deal with private equity house Charterhouse in March.
Giles is the man with the money and he has been pretty vocal about how he would ideally like to spend it.
With the ink on the Charterhouse deal barely dry, Giles was happy to tell the insurance community that he thought a merger with another consolidator was a good idea to keep pace with the growth of Towergate and Venture Preference.
Giles is looking to grow to £1bn in annual premium income – at least – and he has the money to do so.
But whilst the ‘big deal’ has not happened (yet), Giles has been busy making a string of smaller purchases across the UK. He is eager to grow the company’s presence in Wales, the south of England and North East England.
Giles is also busy developing its underwriting capabilities through its agency Ink Underwriting.
It is not clear how large the Giles business has become. Giles does not disclose the size of the businesses acquired. At a guess, Giles Insurance Brokers probably now controls between £300m and £400m in annual premiums.
If correct, this range is still a way off Giles’ £1bn-plus target. So it would not be surprising if Chris Giles is looking at other options to grow the business. It would take a long time to grow if he just buys small regional brokers.
A large acquisition, such as a rival consolidator, would be a smart move, very quickly adding scale and boosting Giles’ presence in a number of regions.
It is also no surprise that Giles was tipped as a potential bid for Cobra.
Doubtless as the months roll on, Giles will be linked to every potential acquisition (and a few where a sale isn’t even on the cards), much like Towergate was last year.
These days, it is all about Giles.