Lloyd’s of London broker Global Risk Partners (GRP) has reached an agreement to acquire Marsh’s UK Networks business, which consists of Marsh ProBroker, Bluefin Network and Purple Partnership.
The agreement, which remains subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the second-quarter of 2021 and also includes the acquisition of Marsh Connections, Marsh Labyrinth and Broker2Broker (B2B), part of Marsh’s wider UK networks business.
Once the deal completes, Marsh’s UK Networks team will transition to GRP and David Hopwood, head of the UK Networks business, is set to join the GRP executive and continue to lead the business under new ownership.
The new GRP networks unit will continue with previously announced plans to transform the network into a single proposition under the new Hedron brand, which will be launched once the deal closes.
Mike Bruce, GRP’s Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has described the deal as “a great leap forward for GRP, with the Group now placing or influencing well over £1.6bn of GWP, and cementing our position as one of the UK’s leading retail commercial broking providers.
“This is a growth story. There won’t be any redundancies. Instead, we want to increase penetration of the Marsh Networks panel, build out the membership base, engage with our strategic insurer partners for the benefit of members and bring new products and services to the network – including through our MGA and healthcare businesses.
“GRP has a highly experienced acquisitions team and we are keen to provide that service to brokers looking to create value from their life’s work. With some brokers looking for an exit in light of potential tax changes, the impact of Brexit and further compliance challenges, we are here to help.”
Adding: “David and I go back many years and I’m a big admirer of what he has achieved to date at Marsh and previously at Bluefin. He and his team will be a key asset for GRP and we intend to continue the work he has started, building a single brand and proposition for the Network.
“We look forward to warmly welcoming Marsh’s UK Networks colleagues to GRP where we believe we will be able to provide them with new and interesting career opportunities under GRP’s ownership.”
Hopwood said: “We are very excited to be taking our members on this next step, where we believe we can capitalise on our firm foundations to generate accelerated growth and success for our 256 members and around 400 trading partners.”
The deal takes GRP’s gross written premiums to circa £1.6 billion, with the firm planning to build membership, deliver growth and offer M&A opportunities to network members.
The transaction also sees some employees in Marsh Commercial’s London Markets Business (LMB) team, led by Bob Peterson, move over to GRP. Peterson will continue to head up the team, which is to become part of Lonmar, GRP’s Lloyd’s and London markets operation. While the LMB’s Placement team, which supports Marsh Commercial’s branches, will remain with Marsh.
Chris Lay, CEO of Marsh, UK & Ireland, commented: “I am pleased that GRP is to become the new custodian for our UK Networks business. Mike Bruce and his team understand the broking business and market environment our members operate in and will ensure that our Networks colleagues and the Network members can continue to thrive. We have a very strong position in the SME segment, and we are excited about the organic growth opportunities in our Marsh Commercial business. This transaction will enable us to increase our investment and focus on the core Marsh Commercial offering to the UK SME market.”
Andrew Frey, Partner at Searchlight Capital Partners, which acquired GRP last year, added: “This is just the kind of bold move we expected when we invested in GRP. The addition of Marsh’s UK Networks business to GRP’s business portfolio will enable their members to derive the considerable benefits that come with being part of our Group. I am confident that all parties will achieve significant value from this acquisition.”