Layton Blackham Business Solutions (LBBS), the broker network owned by AXA, unveiled ambitious plans this week to become the leading network within three years.

The network, which has 50 members, is looking to take on the likes of Broker Net-work to grow to 200 members.

LBBS is targeting brokers of between £1m and £5m gross written premium in size, in addition to providing support for start-up brokers, such as financial backing and back office support.

The network is also offering acquisition funds and support to members that want to expand, as well as brokers looking to sell an equity stake in their business.

The drive follows a “significant” investment programme from Venture Preference, AXA UK’s broking division.

Chris Blackham, co-chief executive of Venture Preference, said the drive to grow the network was not a sideways route to provide acquisition targets for Venture Preference.

He did not rule out buying another network to achieve its growth targets but stressed that building its membership from the “ground up” was preferable.

He added: “If the right opportunity came up we would look at it.”

He would not comment on speculation that AXA was interested in buying Broker Network

Blackham said AXA backed development to preserve its distribution and realise long term profits.

“AXA wants to protect brokers from being bought by a competitor that might take the business away from AXA,” he said.

But he insisted that the network would be independent of AXA and would not be a distribution vehicle for AXA schemes.

The network will continue to offer access to Layton Blackham’s in-house underwriting agency, Elite.