UK group owned by Goldman Sachs set to buy Irish insurer
Irish firm Wright Insurance Brokers is being sold to a UK brokerage controlled by global banking giant Goldman Sachs.
Aston Lark has agreed the deal to buy Wright Insurance, a specialist in the commercial and transport sectors which also offers specialised insurance solutions for private clients.
The deal is Aston Lark's second in Ireland after the acquisition of Robertson Low in January, and its first since the UK broker was bought by Goldman Sachs for £320m in September.
It makes Wright Insurance the Wall Street giant's first push into the sector in the Republic, although Goldman Sachs has had a presence in Ireland for decades, advising large corporations and government.
Goldman Sachs' so-called distressed debt arm also swept into Ireland after the financial crash, buying billions of euro worth of bad property and development loans from struggling banks.
These included loans on Belfast's Merchant Hotel and other assets from Ulster Bank.
Peter Blanc, the chief executive of Aston Lark, said the firm had been "hugely impressed by the business that Tony and Breda Wright have built" and that it was targeting more deals.
"We are keen to continue growing and acquiring like-minded brokers in Ireland where we see huge opportunities," he added.
"Our increased scale will help us provide the full range of insurance and risk management solutions to companies and individuals seeking really high-quality personal service, which we believe will set us apart from the competition."
Tony Wright, CEO of Wright Insurance Brokers, said the sale would mean the Irish business can offer a "highly personalised service company within a scaled, influential group that provides real benefits to our customers and staff".
"This, combined with the investment by Goldman Sachs and the quality and manner of the recent acquisitions, makes Aston Lark an attractive platform to continue with growth of the business,"he added.
It is understood Wrights will become investors in Aston Lark following the sale and will continue their involvement in Patrona Underwriting. The family was advised by Dublin-based solicitors JR Sweeney LLP.
Wright Insurance Brokers is a profitable business. Its most recent accounts for the year to the end of May 2018 show an operating profit of €4.8m (£4m) and revenues of €24.5m (£20.7m).
The group paid a €2.3m (£1.9m) dividend.