Wood­brook plans €100m Ir­ish HQ switch

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Cog­ley

CYPRUS-BASED fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany Wood­brook Group will move its head­quar­ters to Ire­land within the next two years, the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive has said.

Wood­brook, headed up by Water­ford man Michael Do­herty, is in late-stage ne­go­ti­a­tions with two Ir­ish bro­ker­ages. Deals for the two busi­nesses make up part of the group’s planned €100m spend in Ire­land, he claimed.

Do­herty has am­bi­tious plans for the busi­ness and said the group will look to em- ploy up to 1,500 peo­ple here within the next four years.

“We’re very in­ter­ested in the Ir­ish mar­ket. What we’re look­ing to do is buy small bro­ker­ages there, ones that are reg­u­lated by the Ir­ish fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tor, and then re-brand them,” he said.

“Then we’re also look­ing at a life in­sur­ance com­pany, sim­i­lar to that of Quinn Life.”

Wood­brook’s Ir­ish arm will orig­i­nally start off of­fer­ing wealth-man­age­ment ser­vices and pen­sion plan­ning be­fore it be­gins its in­sur­ance busi­ness.

“Over the next two years, you’re look­ing at an in­vest­ment of €100m, be­tween the ac­qui­si­tions, get­ting the ac­tu­ar­ies and build­ing the life in­sur­ance,” Do­herty said.

“Once we’re reg­u­lated and have li­cences in Ire­land and we can see that it’s work­ing prop­erly, we can pass­port di­rectly into Europe but we’ll al­ways keep the head­quar­ters back in Ire­land. That’s what I’ll be look­ing to do.”

The com­pany em­ploys around 150 peo­ple and boasts $2bn (€1.75bn) worth of as­sets un­der man­age­ment. Nu­mer­ous ac­qui­si­tions in Ger­many and the Nether­lands have helped the com­pany grow since it was es­tab­lished five years ago. An­other deal for a Dubai-based firm is also un­der­stood to be nearly fin­ished.

Wood­brook an­nounced last week its in­ten­tion to list on the Nas­daq stock exchange in the US over the com­ing weeks. It has pur­chased a US busi­ness called NHPI and will use it to per­form a “re­v­erse pub­lic of­fer­ing”.

Do­herty said the busi­ness will list with a mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of around $50m (€44m). He will re­main the ma­jor share­holder.

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