GRP’s group chief executive called the deal ‘a coup’ that will provide a ‘leading position in Northern Ireland broking’

Insurance intermediary group Global Risk Partners (GRP) has agreed to buy broker Willis Towers Watson’s (WTW) commercial risk and broking business in Northern Ireland.

Upon completion of the deal, the portfolio – which handles £57m in gross written premium (GWP) – will be integrated into Belfast-based ABL Group, which is led by chief executive Maurice Boyd and managing director Stephen Carlisle.

All WTW staff involved with the NI commercial risk and broking division will also move to ABL Group.

Boyd will continue to lead the combined organisation – which he said will have “strength and muscle” - following the acquisition.

GRP bought ABL Group in 2015.

Speaking on the deal, Boyd said: “This is a fantastic deal for ABL and GRP.

“Not only is the portfolio made up of high-quality commercial business and an excellent team, it underlines the importance the group attaches to Northern Ireland and our confidence in the future prospects for Northern Ireland business and the economy.

“The acquisition follows a number of recent deals completed by ABL, which [when] combined with organic growth has taken total GWP to well over £50m.

“We have now smashed through the £100m GWP barrier and we have every intention of building on that with the strength and muscle from the new combined business.”

ABL Group has previously acquired brokers Digney Grant and McGrady Insurance.

Business coup

GRP’s group chief executive Mike Bruce called the agreed deal “a coup” that will give ABL a “leading position in Northern Ireland broking”.

He continued: “There is no waning in our M&A appetite and we remain very focused on our acquisition strategy across the UK and Ireland.

“The pandemic and subsequent disruption has challenged our ambitions, but through a combination of single-minded determination, client focus and astute deal-making, we continue to generate powerful momentum and excellent results for our investors and insurer partners.”

Brian Curtis, head of Ireland at Willis Towers Watson, added: “I’m impressed by ABL’s vision for the business, their commitment to our colleagues and their focus on giving clients the very best product and service proposition.

“I am confident our clients and colleagues will benefit greatly from the strengths of ABL and the wider GRP group.”

The transaction does not include any part of WTW’s human capital and benefits business in Northern Ireland or any operations in the Republic of Ireland.