Howden Broking Group, an independent insurance and reinsurance broker, has announced an agreement to acquire one of the largest personal and commercial lines insurance brokers in the UK, A-Plan Group, subject to regulatory approval.
Once completed, the deal will create one of the largest insurance brokerages in the UK, managing more than £4 billion of gross written premium for 1.5 million clients, and operating from across more than 100 locations.
Hyperion, the parent of Howden, is set to become the fifth largest employee-owned business with headquarters in the UK with more than 8,000 employees, including 4,500 based in the UK.
Under the new partnership, Howden’s leading specialty and reinsurance business will combine with A-Plan Group’s best-in-class personal and commercial lines expertise, which the firm delivers through its A-Plan and Endsleigh brands.
For Howden, the acquisition enables the significant expansion of its retail distribution and specialist product capabilities in the UK, aided by A-Plan’s best-in-class distribution model. According to an announcement on the deal, this personal, service-based approach, delivered via its office network and digital online channels, backed by industry-leading data and analytics, has resulted in very high levels of customer satisfaction, which in turn has led to high retention rates and low customer acquisition costs, and solid organic growth.
For A-Plan Group, Howden is expected to be a long-term entrepreneurial home with complementary capabilities and culture, and ambitions to be the scale independent challenge brokerage.
Following the deal, A-Plan Group will continue to be led by Carl Shuker as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), reporting to José Manuel González, CEO Howden Broking Group. Furthermore, in addition to his role as Deputy CEO of Howden UK, Chris Evans will take on the position of Chairman of A-Plan Group. Max Carruthers, current Chairman of A-Plan Group, will continue to support the business after the deal closes.
CEO of Hyperion Insurance Group, David Howden, commented: “I am thrilled that Carl and his team have chosen to join Howden as the place to deliver their ambitious growth plans in the UK.
“This is an incredibly important partnership for Howden and creates a significant opportunity to deliver a better and broader offering to both groups’ clients. Like us, A-Plan Group is a business built on a very strong culture of entrepreneurship with employee ownership at its heart and a relentless client focus. These values have ensured that over a period of more than 50 years it has been able to retain and win new clients by delivering to them the personal service they want whilst embracing the opportunities digital distribution, data and technology provide.
“Our combined groups will be a natural home for talent and entrepreneurs seeking a place to deliver the very best for their clients.”
Shuker added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Howden; it was instantly evident from the start of our discussions that we were very aligned on the central importance of people, clients and insurers, and that we would make for a very natural fit.
“Our track record of sustainable growth is something that we are very proud of, and we have huge ambition to take the A-Plan Group and brands to the next level, without diluting any of the values that have got us to where we are today.
“The markets that Howden and A-Plan serve are highly complementary, and our ever growing regional client reach and access will deliver considerable growth opportunity for the combined Group, and to our existing insurer partners.
“Being part of an entrepreneurial, international Group, is a really exciting next step for us, and we look forward to contributing to the delivery of Howden’s much wider ambitions.”
While González said: “I am proud that our story over the past 26 years has been one of growth, expertise, value-driven acquisitions and above all, a focus on our people. We continue to build a business where entrepreneurial talent can thrive, with the belief that when they do, our people will in turn do great things for our clients. By joining with A-Plan Group we stay true to this story – partnering with a business that truly shares our vision and values.
“The completion of this deal sees us managing £7bn GWP on behalf of clients across the 35 territories in which we operate. Factoring in our Howden network – which grows that figure to more than 90 – it is a move that will cement us as the international challenger broker, offering excellence, expertise and a different perspective all over the world.”