Belfast Telegraph

Management team buys out ABL insurance in multi-million deal

By Margaret Canning

The directors of Northern Ireland insurance broker Abbey Bond Lovis (ABL) have acquired the business in a multi-million management buy-out.

Directors Maurice Boyd, Stephen Carlisle, Gary Crabbe, Ken Alderdice and Patrick McMillen will continue to lead the firm, which has around £24m on its books, following the deal.

The exact value of the buy-out - which was backed by private equity - has not been revealed.

ABL provides private, commercial and corporate insurance, and counts many major Northern Ireland businesses among its clients. It has 92 staff based in Belfast, Armagh and Coleraine.

The directors were backed by Global Risk Partners (GRP) Ltd in London.

Maurice Boyd, managing director of ABL, said: "Through this management buy-out, with the support from GRP, we plan to develop the business significantly while ensuring we maintain our solid reputation as a client-focused organisation.

"Growth will be sustained organically as we focus on winning business from more of Northern Ireland's top companies, and there is the added potential for strategic acquisitions of brokerages which share our values and ethos of client service being paramount.

"We have the largest on-the-ground workforce of any commercial insurance broker in Northern Ireland, and we view our employees as our main asset, investing in them by ensuring that we provide bespoke, individual training plans in place for every member."

David Margrett, chief executive of GRP, said: "Backing the deal was an ideal opportunity to acquire an established broker with a strong reputation in the market, led by an excellent management team.

"ABL provides us with a scalable platform to expand in Northern Ireland. With more than £200m annual income, we are growing quickly. Our 'owner-driver' approach gives each management team a significant equity stake in their business, creating an attractive opportunity for both retail and wholesale businesses to be a part of our group."

Mr Boyd said the new business would be a "viable alternative to some of the established multi-national brokers with our blend of a highly qualified team and local autonomy".

"We continue to look at growth across all of our sectors, with specialists within the business in terms of the larger corporate and SME sectors servicing our wide range of clients. In everything we do, we think of our customers, and the investment we are putting in will, ultimately, benefit them.

"We are committed to delivering a quality service, which our clients demand, boosted by the ability to be fast-moving and autonomous in decision-making."

The management buy-out is the latest in a string of big corporate deals in Northern Ireland.

The boom began in June with the £945m sale of Moy Park and continued with a big acquisition for Westland Horticulture, as well as the sales of Maydown, Boojum and P Clarke & Sons. Haulage firm Sawyers in Lurgan has also been sold.

Belfast Telegraph