International insurance broking group Howden has reached agreement to acquire chartered insurance broker Aston Lark from Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Bowmark Capital.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, sees Aston Lark join A-Plan Group and Howden UK to create a full-service broker managing over £6bn of gross written premium for more than 1.7 million policyholders.
No figure has yet been given for the value of the transaction.
Aston Lark specialises in complex commercial and private client insurance and employee benefit advice, placing more than £1bn of gross written premiums for 200,000 clients, on behalf of the UK’s leading insurers.
In the last 12 months Aston Lark bought Southampton-based broker PHM, completed the buyout of Right to Health and The Health Insurance Specialists, and agreed terms to acquire the clients of The Health Insurance Company.
It also issued a statement last month highlighting a continued intent to expand and that it had “ambitious plans” in the sector.
The combined businesses will have more than 5,000 employees in 160 locations in the UK and Ireland and will cover specialist personal lines, commercial, schemes and affinity, health and benefits, corporate, and specialty insurance.
The business will be led by a combined management team.
Upon completion of the deal, Aston Lark chief executive Peter Blanc will become executive chairman of Howden’s UK retail broking operations, with current A-Plan chief executive officer Carl Shuker appointed chief executive officer of the new platform.
Howden UK chief executive officer Andy Bragoli will lead the firm’s international specialty business.
The management team will report to Jose Manuel Gonzalez, chief executive officer, Howden Broking Group.
Last week the intermediary announced Cheryl Brennan had been promoted to managing director of Howden Employee Benefits UK.
Commenting on the deal, David Howden, chief executive officer of Howden Group, said: “The completion of our UK broking platform is a deal a decade in the making and I’m thrilled that Aston Lark’s highly respected and experienced management team has chosen Howden as its final home.”
He also noted that in the rapidly consolidating and technology-driven sector the move enhanced the firm’s ability to attract large clients and recruit talented people.
“Not only is Aston Lark the missing piece of our UK broking strategy but our new strengthened platform signals a new beginning for the group, accelerating our significant international ambitions by bringing a fresh and energetic dynamic to all our markets and even greater value to our clients,” Howden added.
Peter Blanc, group CEO of Aston Lark, said: “I’ve always been determined to make sure that the business we have been building in Aston Lark finds its forever home and I’m absolutely delighted to have done that through Howden.
“My thanks go to Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Bowmark Capital for allowing me and my management team to choose the right home for us.”
“Together we will be the major force in the UK broking market and I’m extremely excited about what we can achieve over the coming years.”
Blanc added that he believed “the Aston Lark culture of care for clients, employees and insurers resonates throughout Howden and this could not be a better fit”.
“We embarked on an exciting growth journey six years ago and have gone from placing £100m of premium to £1bn,” he continued.
“We’ll continue to seek high-quality acquisitions and talented individuals to join us as we become part of this amazing story.”