DUAL, the underwriting arm of Howden Group, has reached an agreement to acquire Align Financial Holdings, one of the leading specialist general agency and underwriting management groups in the US.
Kieran Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Align, will lead the combined US businesses, supported by Jim O’Connor, CEO of DUAL North America, and John Johnson, President of Align.
Sweeney will also become Executive Chairman of DUAL Group globally and a member of the Howden Group Executive Committee.
Current DUAL Group Non-Executive Chairman, David Ibeson will become a Non-Executive Director.
“Since we founded DUAL in 1998, it has expanded from a small financial lines operation in Spain to having the broadest geographic and specialist product distribution platform of any MGA, with operations across the US, Europe and Asia Pacific,” said David Howden, Founder and CEO of Howden Group.
“Kieran shares a strategic vision with us to create an international MGA of real scale, using data and advanced technologies to redefine the underwriting business of the future.
“Both our businesses have been built with entrepreneurial talent and strong capacity relationships, and now the scale of the combined businesses will open more doors to attracting new talent, new capacity, and enhancing data and analytical capabilities, as we pursue our ambition to become the next-generation underwriting business that breaks the mould.”
Richard Clapham, CEO of DUAL Group, added, “Kieran and his team have built one of the standout specialist program managers in the US market, and this deal represents the unison of two highly complementary businesses which are keenly focused on delivering underwriting excellence as their primary directive.
“The complementary product and program mix, the broadened distribution, cross-sell opportunities, deepened pool of capacity providers, and expanded broker partnerships, present a very special opportunity not only in the US, where the business will be one of the largest general agencies in the biggest marketplace in the world, but globally.”
Kieran Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Align, commented, “This is a momentous next step for Align, and one I am delighted to take with DUAL and Howden Group.
“What stood out to me from the start of our conversations with David, Richard and the senior team was that the platform we will become a part of is entirely designed to be one in which great people thrive.
“The opportunity to grow a next-generation underwriting management business that charts new territories for ourselves and our partners is very real and compelling.”