Arachas buys fintech to target consumer insurance market

Purchase of Orange Bear part of plan to target the online consumer market

Arachas, an Irish insurance broker that was bought last year by larger UK peer Ardonagh Group, has acquired a Kilkenny-based fintech company as it prepares plans to actively target the consumer market here.

The purchase price of Orange Bear, which has a developed digital insurance platform that Arachas sees as key to making inroads in the online consumer market for motor and household coverage, has not been disclosed.

Arachas, whose name is Irish for insurance, has focused mainly on commercial lines since it was established 15 years ago through the merger of Cork-based broker Tyrrell Coakley with two Dublin-based peers, Hodgins Percival and Slattery Jermyn.

While it has consumer exposure as a result of a flurry of deals in recent years, it has not pursued this segment of the market as strongly as commercial lines before now.


"This acquisition enables us to fulfil our ambition to transform the customer experience using cutting edge technology and to be the leading digital and data driven broker in Ireland, " said Conor Brennan, chief executive of Arachas for the past three years, having previously headed up both Zurich Insurance Group's UK and Irish general insurance businesses.

“We now have the technology that will make buying insurance online simple and transparent but with a key difference. Our customers will have immediate access to our insurance experts who can advise on the right insurance.”

‘Simple’ online experience

Orange Bear was set up by Kevin McCarthy, another Zurich alumnus. “We established Orange Bear in 2017 as there was a clear need for a simple consumer experience online when dealing with their insurance needs,” he said. “Combining technology with decades of critical insurance experience, we developed a platform that is potentially the most interesting innovation in the Irish consumer insurance space.”

It is expected the technology will be rolled out across the wider Ardonagh Group, which is home to a number of well-known UK brokerages, including Bishopsgate, Towergate and Carole Nash, and led by Westmeath native David Ross.

US private-equity firms Madison Dearborn and HPS Investment Partners originally acquired Arachas last April for €250 million from London investment firm Sovereign Capital Partners, the Irish business's former chief executive Donal Cronin, and other minority small shareholders.

Madison Dearborne and HPS moved in June to roll Arachas into Ardonagh, which the US companies already controlled.

Prior to the purchase, Arachas was owned by UK private equity firm Sovereign Capital Partners, the Irish business’s former chief executive Donal Cronin and other minority small shareholders.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times