Tom Broughton comments on Heath Lambert's reincarnation.
The Heath Lambert story has been one of price, positioning and delicate client management. In his assessment of the past four years, chief executive Adrian Colosso, points to some difficult times when its rivals were stalking the business and chunks of his staff were defecting from a broker gripped by uncertainty.
Financial consultant Hawkpoint was brought in last summer to review the business and offer options for its future, but this appointment and the potential options, only added fuel to the speculation. After all, the business had been through an on and off merger with JLT and staved off unwelcome advances from THB.
As a result, over the past 12 months, Heath Lambert has been linked to a number of potential buyers with Colosso placed firmly on the back foot, juggling the need to present a united front to his clients and obtain maximum value for any sell-off. It was difficult for him to say anything at such delicate stages of negotiations.
And the last thing he wanted was for the relationships with existing clients to be undermined. In the end, a deal was struck for its global solutions and reinsurance business to be hived off to Cooper Gay while the remaining core business was positioned for future growth. This week Colosso has come out fighting again.
He is at pains to point out that there are no plans to sell in the immediate future. Heath Lambert has also just landed a major client by seeing off rival global brokers to capture the multi billion pound Crossrail transport project contract and its boss is firmly on the front foot once again.
Colosso is a broker boss who does not mince his words. He accepts that the business may one day float and doesn’t rule out a deal with a consolidator, notwithstanding the current economic climate. The difference now is that Colosso’s head is firmly above the parapet and it’s a good indication that Heath Lambert is heading in the right direction.