Heath Lambert pulls out of talks to sell wholesale unit

THB Group has poached two directors from Heath Lambert following a failed bid to buy Heath's UK wholesale division, Insurance Times has learned.

THB had wanted to buy the division to bolster its own UK non-marine wholesale business and replace the revenue lost from the sale of its provincial retail operation, THB Clowes.

It is thought the deal fell through after Heath Lambert pulled out of the negotiations. Neither company would comment on the matter.

It has since emerged that, following the collapse of the talks, THB has appointed two senior managers from the Heath Lambert division.

One of those poached is Graham Lawrenson, managing director of FSJ, Heath Lambert's London market wholesale team. He has joined as a director of Thompson Heath & Bond with overall responsibility for its UK wholesale operations.

The other hiring is Lawrenson's second in command, Colin Jackson, who joins as divisional director.

It is thought that Lawrenson and Jackson could be the first of many to leave the Heath Lambert team, which specialises in bloodstock and livestock, motor fleet and the pharmaceutical sector.

It has an estimated brokerage of £3m.

Vic Thompson, chief executive of THB Group, said: "We appreciate that the UK market is soft and will get softer before it turns, but this is the correct time to be investing for the future. 

"If you wait till the market turns you are far too late."

He added: "We anticipate that, on the UK wholesale side alone, within 18 months we will have replaced 50% of the revenue produced by THB Clowes prior to the sale of that business."

A spokesman for Heath Lambert said FSJ, which will now be headed up by Derek Thornton, managing director of internal risk management, was an important part of the company, but it was "business as usual".

Meanwhile, THB said it was also in talks with more than one other team. The broking group is seeking to strengthen other aspects of the business, which include the international, reinsurance and energy markets.

In addition, it said it was also pursuing corporate targets and was especially interested in companies with younger management who wished to take an equity stake in THB to grow the company together.