Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland insurance giant sells shares of its founders to equity firm

Prestige boss: Trevor Shaw
Prestige boss: Trevor Shaw
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland insurance giant Prestige Insurance Holdings, which owns Abbey Insurance, has sold the shares of founding members to a global equity firm.

A Prestige spokewoman said Capital Z Partners Management has now made a multi-million pound investment in Prestige.

It's understood the deal will affect around 50% of the Carrickfergus-based business, which is led by chief executive Trevor Shaw.

The sum invested has not been disclosed - but Capital Z has invested an average of $72.5m in 40 transactions over nearly 30 years.

Prestige was founded by George Storey in 1973. While other retiring directors have now sold their shares, Mr Storey and executive board members have retained a shareholding and remain on the board.

A spokeswoman gave assurances for staff that their jobs "would not be at risk" as a result of the deal, which has to be approved by regulatory authorities. 

According to its financial statements for the year ending March 2017, Prestige employs around 572 people. It operates 21 branches of Abbey Insurance in Northern Ireland.

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The financial statements also reveal group turnover of £43.7m and pre-tax profits of £1.6m.

Capital Z, which is based in New York, is a major investor in the insurance sector. It has invested $2.9bn in 40 deals over the last 28 years - with the majority invested in insurance and insurance services and around $0.9bn in general financial services.

Two years ago Abbey snapped up rival Open + Direct in a multi-million pound deal which created the dominant insurance player in the Northern Ireland market, with a total of 200,000 customers and 420 staff.

And it returned Open + Direct to Northern Ireland ownership for the first time in nearly 10 years. It had been owned by Swinton Group in England.

The sale of shares in Prestige is one of the biggest deals in the sector in recent times.

Belfast Telegraph