Aston Lark chief executive Peter Blanc ‘very excited’ about new acquisition opportunities the investment will bring
Aston Lark is to be acquired by Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division.
Private equity house Bowmark Capital, the former largest shareholder in Aston Lark, has sold it’s stake to the private equity division of Goldman Sachs, with the price understood to be in the region of £300m-£350m.
Following announcement of the deal Aston Lark chief executive Peter Blanc told Insurance Times that, given the group’s buy-and-build strategy, it needed to reload the balance sheet to accelerate growth. But he revealed there are plans for Bowmark to reinvest in Aston Lark.
Blanc said: “Bowmark remain keen supporters of the business and whilst Goldman Sachs are now the main backer Bowmark are planning to re-invest in Aston Lark as they remain very excited about backing the team and the platform in the next stage of growth.”
Completion is expected on the deal once it has received antitrust approval in the US and approval from the FCA and Central Bank of Ireland.
“We’re delighted to be able to announce that we’ve now exchanged contracts with Goldman Sachs,” said Blanc.
“When this deal completes it will secure our independence for the foreseeable future to enable us to continue acquiring like-minded brokers and employee benefits advisors to create the UK’s most trusted chartered insurance broker.”
Goldman Sachs had been one of a number of firms in the running to purchase Aston Lark.
Michele Titi-Cappelli, head of financial services investing at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division, said: “We have been impressed by what Peter Blanc and the Aston Lark team have achieved, and we are excited to be supporting the company’s growth ambitions both organically and via acquisitions.”
Blanc told Insurance Times at the Biba conference last week that the private equity deal would open up opportunities to purchase MGAs, wholesale brokers and networks. Aston Lark is already the fifth largest independent UK broker, trading over £350m in premium each year, and Blanc said with this new backing there was no limit to what Aston Lark could acquire.
Speaking on announcement of the Goldman Sachs deal, Blanc added: “We’re extremely proud of the business that we’ve built, and all of our management team are very excited about what the future holds.
“Our ambitions for the business can now be realised over the coming months and years and I’ll be talking to brokers that want to share in this journey.”
Blanc told Insurance Times at the start of the year he wanted new private equity investment to fund bigger deals. He had suggested a new backer could invest alongside Bowmark or replace them.
And Blanc thanked Bowmark for their contribution to the group, which included the merger of Aston Scott and Lark Group to form Aston Lark in September 2017, and 13 bolt-on acquisitions. The most recent acquisition of Jobson James has taken its number of offices to 27, with 700 staff.
“I’d like to express my thanks to Bowmark Capital who have been a wonderfully supportive investor over the last four years,” Blanc said.
Julian Masters, Bowmark partner, added: “We have greatly enjoyed working with Peter and his team to deliver on the company’s growth ambitions.
“Thanks to its continuous focus on innovation and excellence, and its ability to identify, acquire and successfully integrate complementary businesses, we believe Aston Lark is well-positioned to continue its strong track record of growth.”
There will be no change in the Aston Lark senior management team following the Goldman Sachs deal.
Bowmark Capital was advised by Livingstone Partners and Macquarie Capital.
Subscribers read more