More deals could follow the HSBC Insurance Brokers acquisition ‘once the customers are happy’

Marsh chief executive Martin South has not ruled out more UK acquisitions once HSBC Insurance Brokers is fully absorbed into the company.

Speaking after last week’s completion of the HSBC deal and its rebrand to Marsh Brokers Limited (MBL), South said: “Overall, Marsh is in growth mode and where we see the right quality and right cultural compatibility, we will look at opportunities as they arise. You can’t necessarily plan these things.

“Clearly we will want to get this deal bedded in and get the customers comfortable. We want to make sure we look after the people; that they are happy and aligned with what we want to do.

“Then it will be business as usual, and business as usual for Marsh at the moment means growth.”

He said that in some cases it would make sense to bring staff together. The firm hoped to move HSBC’s London-based staff into Marsh offices by the end of the year.

A number of senior directors on the Marsh board had now also been appointed to the MBL board including South, chairman Sir Peter Middleton, financial officer Angus Cameron and corporate governance head John Nicholson. HSBC Brokers chief executive Philip Gregory and human resources director Janet Elms have left.

South revealed that high prices had put the company off acquisitions, especially during 2007.

Explaining the group’s decision to swoop for HSBC in a £135m deal last December, he said: “It felt like the perfect opportunity. It’s a good-sized business, internationally it has nice growth opportunities in Asia and the Middle East, and in the UK it significantly bolsters our mid-market presence and adds new capabilities in certain specialties where we have not been market leaders, for example on the education business.”

As well as the bank affinity business partnership, getting hold of the third-party business arm – whose old name Gibbs Hartley Cooper is being revived by Marsh – before HSBC Insurance Brokers took it over was a true sweetener. “We now want to ramp up that third-party business,” South said. “It tends to be quite high margin.”