Start-up losses worsen, but Robertson Taylor acquisition will boost premium income

The chief executive of start-up insurance venture Oxygen, Nigel Barton, has insisted the group will break even by the end of the year.

Oxygen Holdings’ turnover soared by 570% in 2006, to £4m from £0.7m in the previous year, according to its latest accounts.

But pre-tax losses for the group, which comprises broking and underwriting businesses, deteriorated to £4.1m from £3m in 2005.

Barton said the company, which was launched in 2004, was still in the early stages of growth and that losses were expected.

“We are in the build phase and are expecting a cost burn at these early stages. That is not surprising. We are expecting to break even by the end of the year.”

The comments came as Oxygen acquired Lloyd’s broker Robertson Taylor, which specialises in the music and live event sector. Robertson Taylor will become the music and entertainment risks team within the specialist division of Oxygen Insurance Brokers.

It will continue to trade under the Robertson Taylor brand. Barton would not reveal the premium income of the acquisition.

Prior to the acquisition, Oxygen Insurance Brokers handled in excess of £100m gross premiums.

According to latest figures filed with Companies House, Robertson Taylor reported a pre-tax profit of £573,000 in 2005 and a turnover of £7.1m.

Barton said the growth potential of the business made it attractive. But he said the acquisition was exceptional. “We are not a consolidator”.

He said there would be no further acquisitions this year, although the company would look to hire teams.

And the broker would develop its UK regional business.

“Robertson Taylor has built a strong specialty business. This acquisition complements Oxygen’s strategy of building a broking house with world-class expertise in specific sectors.”