Fees and commissions lift to £46.2m; broking profit climbs to £5.3m

THB Group chief executive Frank Murphy says the specialist broker is primed for acquisitions following a steady set of results for last year.

Fees and commissions lifted 18% to £46.2m compared with 2008, while underlying broking profit climbed from £3.7m to £5.3m. Underlying profit before tax went up marginally from £3.5m to £3.6m.

Murphy said that a stronger dollar, improved investment income and harder rates should help the group to develop this year. “I would not be surprised if we did a corporate acquisition in 2010. I think we are in a good space.”

He revealed THB is getting calls from broking houses looking to sell up.

“We are not under any pressure. It’s about the right company, at the right price,” he said.

The group’s underwriting agency, Unicorn, sold its bloodstock team to XL Insurance in November. THB is currently talking to teams to strengthen the managing general agency, which is still an important part of the business, and is willing to take on “disaffected” staff, Murphy said.

It could mean Unicorn being used to develop teams with a view to sell them on

or as a driver of organic growth. Unicorn writes property investors’ business and underwrites specialist crime, including fraud and data theft.

“We think there is a good MGA play there as a balance to the insurance broking side of our business,” Murphy added.

The group’s global business, THB International Holdings, plans to maximise potential from PWS, the Lloyd’s broker with overseas offices that it bought in January 2008, while a deal also has been struck with a Hong Kong broker to open up Far East markets.