The £115m refinancing is a key development for the ambitious broker.
The news this week that Oval has finally refinanced, securing its acquisition war chest for the next year with a £115m debt facility, is a significant development for the business.
The debt facility, led by Barclays and Lloyds TSB, which have supported Oval in the past, will provide funding for Oval’s acquisition plans next year.
It has not been a quick process - Insurance Times reported in March that the Oval was looking to refinance - leading to speculation that the company was in danger of running out of money.
This was compounded by the fact rivals Giles Insurance Brokers and Jelf Group had already secured their acquisition war chests; and talk of discussions with insurers about taking a stake in Oval.
Oval chief executive Phillip Hodson was always adamant that the group had money in place to fulfil its 2008 acquisitions and was supported by its banks and private equity backer, Caledonia.
That the refinancing has taken place with the facility increased from its previous level of around £70m, is a testament to Oval’s business, given the current financial turmoil.
Oval has also restarted its acquisition programme this week with two purchases after putting it on hold over the summer owing to the prevailing “economic conditions”. This is also significant.
Acquisitions within the broking sector had pretty much dried up over the past few months, even amongst the consolidators, on the back of spiralling sale prices and an increasingly gloomy economic outlook.
That Oval is prepared to start buying again is a healthy sign. It is likely others will begin to follow suit. Indeed, Venture Preference has also indicated that it will start buying again.
Looking further ahead, Hodson has said that Oval could float in three years’ time and is looking to double its revenues to over £200m. Expect plenty more acquisitions if it is to meet this target.