Oval has confirmed the acquisition of Leicester-based broker Bland Bankart for around £22m in cash and Oval shares.

Oval group chief executive Phillip Hodson said that the acquisition gave the group total brokerage of £30m and a pre-tax profit in the order of £5m.

He said that the "immediate aim" was to grow brokerage to £50m, profit to £10m and gross written premium to £250m by the end of 2004.

"It's a major acquisition of one of the biggest regional brokers in the country," Hodson said.

"It probably takes us further than we anticipated more quickly."

Under the deal, Bland Bankart, which has offices in Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Luton and London, will continue to operate under its own name.

Chairman and chief executive of Bland Bankart, Philip Bland, will join Oval part-time as chairman of the operating board.

Hodson said Oval operating board members Jeff Herdman and Tony Durant would manage its insurance broking and financial services businesses, respectively.

Hodson said the group would look to expand each of Bland Bankart's offices through bolt-on acquisitions, and he said it was in discussions with three or four other companies.

Oval was formed in October 2003 when it bought Yorkshire-based broker RP Hodson.