Current conditions might not be ideal for a sale, but the predators are clawing at the door

Peter Blanc will be the most wanted man in insurance this week. While his accession to the Oval throne (first revealed by Insurance Times) has been one of the market’s worst-kept secrets for some weeks, Monday’s official announcement fired the starting gun in a race to buy the consolidator.

Blanc insists that a sale or any other exit is some way off, and that he has a remit to grow the business and improve profitability. Why would anyone sell in the
current market, you - and he - might ask?

That’s all well and good - but whether it will be enough to stave off the many predators that will be salivating at the prospect of buying Oval remains to be seen. The consolidator has been at the centre of ‘will they, won’t they’ sale rumours for so many years now it’s almost become boring. Philip Hodson has always been seen as the major barrier to a deal - and his departure will be read as an invitation.

Blanc’s suitors are likely to include Brendan McManus, soon to be installed at Giles. The timing would be very neat - a Giles and Oval merger is an obvious move, and with Chris Giles stepping back at the same time as Hodson, those negotiations just got a whole lot easier. Don’t rule out Mark Hodges at Towergate either - he may have been keeping a low profile so far, but he’s a man with very big ambitions, and funds to match.

But it’s not just fellow consolidators that will be making eyes at Oval. Marsh has run the rule over the business before and is keen to make another UK acquisition. Martin South’s successor, when announced, will want to make their mark, and what better way?

And we haven’t heard the last of Gallagher yet - David Ross has got both the cash and the determination to carry through the ultimate transformational acquisition. Blanc’s phone is going to be ringing off the hook.

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