It’s not GRP’s first deal of 2021 but it is certainly its biggest so far, as the insurance intermediary has today revealed it has entered an agreement to acquire Marsh’s UK Networks business. The terms of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, have not been disclosed and completion is expected by Q2 2021.
The Networks business, which is part of the leading global insurance broker and risk advisor Marsh, comprises Marsh ProBroker, Bluefin Network and Purple Partnership. The deal also includes Marsh Connections, Marsh Labyrinth and Broker2Broker (B2B), part of Marsh’s wider UK networks business, which gives brokers access to a range of market-leading products and facilities.
Commenting on the deal, group CEO of GRP Mike Bruce (pictured) noted that Marsh’s UK Networks business is a great strategic fit for GRP and will represent “a great leap forward for GRP, with the group now placing or influencing well over £1.6 billion of GWP, and cementing our position as one of the UK’s leading retail commercial broking providers.”
On completion of the acquisition, Bruce said, the Networks team will move across to GRP and head of the UK Networks business, David Hopwood will join the GRP executive team and continue to lead the business under new ownership.
“This is a growth story,” he said. “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.”
Bruce said that a key part of the GRP proposition will be to offer M&A facilitates to network members who are looking to sell their business. GRP’s experienced acquisitions team will provide its services to brokers looking for the next step. He highlighted that some brokers are looking for such opportunities in light of potential tax changes, Brexit impacts and compliance challenges.
He also noted that he had previously worked with Hopwood while both were at Bluefin and is a keen admirer of his work. Hopwood and his team will be an important asset for GRP, he said, and GRP will continue the work he has started, building a single brand and proposition for the Network. This new single brand will be Hedron and will be officially launched following deal completion.
“We look forward to warmly welcoming Marsh’s UK Networks colleagues to GRP,” he said, “where we believe we will be able to provide them with new and interesting career opportunities under GRP’s ownership.”
Meanwhile, Hopwood said the UK Networks team was very excited to take its members on this next step and noted his belief that it can capitalise on its firm foundations to offer accelerated growth for its 256 members and approximately 400 trading partners.
Following deal completion, the GRP networks division will continue to transform the network into a single proposition under the new Hedron brand, to offer members variety and to enable the introduction of new insurer partners to the panel.
The deal will also see some members of Marsh Commercial’s London Markets Business (LMB) team, headed up by Bob Peterson, transfer to GRP. Peterson will continue to lead the team which will become part of Lonmar, GRP’s Lloyd’s and London markets division.
Meanwhile, the LMB’s placement team, which supports Marsh Commercial’s branches, will remain with Marsh.
Commenting on the transaction, Chris Lay, CEO of Marsh, UK & Ireland, said: “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 in 2020, noted that this is the kind of bold move the group expected when it invested in GRP. The addition of the UK Networks business to GRP’s business portfolio will support members in deriving the benefits that come with being part of the group, he said, and he is confident that all involved parties will see significant value from the acquisition.