Broker seeking private equity investment to expand

Toby Esser, Cooper Gay

Private equity firm Lightyear Capital is the frontrunner to buy a stake in broking group Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford (CGSC).

However Insurance Times understands no deal has yet been signed, and CGSC is still in discussions with private equity firms.

In an interview with Insurance Times in April, CGSC chief executive Toby Esser said that the company was looking for private equity investment to fund further growth, as poor capital markets conditions had delayed its plans for an initial public offering (IPO).

Esser and CGSC declined to comment on the Lightyear rumour specifically, but Esser re-iterated his company’s intention to raise private equity capital.

“I don’t think the timing is good for us or anybody in the IPO markets now,” Esser said. “If you want to continue to grow and acquire businesses, as we do, a private equity raising makes sense.

“We have certainly been having those discussions and we have had a number of private equity guys coming to us and looking to get involved with us.”

Esser added: “We have a couple of acquisition targets and we are hungry to do those.”

Lightyear Capital has a history of investing in the (re)insurance industry. It has a controlling stake in Lloyd’s insurer Antares, and was a founding investor in Bermuda-based reinsurer Flagstone Re.