Scottish insurance broker snapped up by top consultancy
● ‘Eight-figure’ deal sees 53-year-old Clark Thomson relinquish independence
Clark Thomson, Scotland’s largest independent insurance broker, has been snapped up by one of the UK’S biggest operators in the sector to sharply extend its footprint north of the Border.
The price of the acquisition by Jelf, an insurance consultancy which is part of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management solutions, is thought to run “into eight figures”, suggesting double-digit millions, say industry insiders. Jelf and Clark Thomson were not disclosing the financial terms yesterday.
Established in 1965, Clark Thomson has its HQ in Perth and offices in Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness, Elgin, Oban, Kirkwall, Thurso and Nairn, and employs more than 200.
The Scottish group provides insurance broking to smaller businesses (SMES), with particular expertise in the agriculture, renewable energy, food and drink and retail sectors, as well as providing personal lines insurance for individuals and families.
In the year to end-march 2017, Clark Thomson’s turnover rose 12 per cent to £11.18m. Jelf ’s revenues are not split out from Marsh’s results.
Phil Barton, chief executive of Jelf, told The Scotsman: “We have ambitions to be the most significant player in Scotland, where we were under-represented even though having offices including Aberdeen, Glasgow,edinburghandsome other sites.
“Clark Thomson is a prize asset, a great business with a great heritage, and we are thrilled. There is a great fit in culture and footprint.”
He added that the combined business will offer clients “a compelling proposition across a wide range of insurance, risk management and employee benefits services and solutions”.
The combined Scottish business will, subject to regulatory approvals, be led by Ben Bailey, MD of Clark Thomson, and a management team drawn from both companies.
Bailey said: “This deal is great news for our clients and colleagues alike. Through Jelf, our clients will have access to a wider range of services and solutions, while colleagues will benefit from being part of Marsh’s wider global network.
“I look forward to bringing Jelfandclarkthomson’soperations together, and building the leading advisory business in Scotland.”
On the rationale for Clark Thomson giving up its independence, Bailey said that it had built a great client list “but we were at the point where we wanted to provide extra services for them, particularly employee benefits and specific risk management”.
Jelf has almost 3,000 staff in the UK serving more than 250,000 clients, many of them SMES, from over 75 locations.
Barton added that he and Bailey had known each other more than five years, but tentative informal talks about a potential merger began two years ago. “Those talks have accelerated. Frankly, we don’t make acquisitions in a hurry, we want to understand the business,” he said.