Impending Broker Network deal brings warning of defections.

Rival networks have started to target Westinsure members following reports of its planned sale to Broker Network.

Last week, Insurance Times reported that a £10m deal was nearing completion.

It is understood that Westinsure’s 140 members could be asked to join the Broker Network’s new Associate membership scheme, where brokers can test the network before committing as full members.

A market source said Westinsure’s rival South West network, the Purple Partnership, had already begun targeting Westinsure members, in the hope they would be reluctant to join the larger network, which is owned by Towergate.

Dave Hopwood, managing director of Layton Blackham Business Solutions (LBBS), claimed Westinsure members had already begun contacting LBBS.

He said he would be looking to take advantage of the fall-out from Westinsure members as they had limited contractual agreements, compared to other networks.

“It undoubtedly raises some unrest in that organisation and we will be talking to those businesses as a result of that,” he said.

LBBS currently has 61 members combining more than £80m in gross written premiums.

Hopwood said he would look to double that GWP by this time next year.

In a statement released to the shareholders and members last week, Westinsure managing director Denis Morgan said following the group’s success it was inevitable that it would receive offers.

But he refused to confirm that an offer was on the table.

He said: “It is hardly surprising that in a market which is dominated by consolidation rumours will circulate about a possible acquisition of the business. However, the facts of the matter are that Westinsure is a plc with 38 shareholders, most of whom are broking members of the group.

“Our priorities remain with our shareholders and members and so, if we were ever to receive an offer to acquire the group, our shareholders and members would be the first to hear of it.”

Broker Network declined to comment.