Arachas to buy Waterford-based broker Hooper Dolan for €60m-plus

Transaction will boost insurance broker’s workforce to more than 450

Arachas, an Irish insurance broker that was bought last year by larger UK peer Ardonagh Group, has continued on its own acquisitions trail with an agreement to purchase Waterford-based Hooper Dolan in a deal believed to be worth in excess of €60 million.

Hooper Dolan, led by directors and main shareholders Paul Dolan, Cathal Lowe and Charlie Cavanagh, has over 120 employees across 12 offices nationwide. The transaction will boost Arachas's workforce to more than 450. The Hooper Dolan trio will remain on board.

Established in 1978 and with headquarters in Waterford, Hooper Dolan specialises in the provision of insurance products for both business and consumers and in 2020 reported an income of €14.1 million.

‘Strategic vision’

"This acquisition is consistent with our strategic vision to expand our business and be the leading experts in our field and it represents a significant opportunity to complement our existing business," said Conor Brennan, chief executive of Arachas.


“Despite a hugely competitive Irish M&A [mergers and acquisitions] market, this transaction illustrates that with resolute commitment to clear strategic direction, there are still accretive deals to be found.”

Arachas, whose name is Irish for insurance, was established 15 years ago through the merger of Cork-based broker Tyrrell Coakley with two Dublin-based peers, Hodgins Percival and Slattery Jermyn. The company ramped up dealmaking in the wake of a management buyout deal backed by UK private equity firm Sovereign Capital in 2017.

Mr Brennan, a former executive with Zurich Insurance, took over as chief executive of Arachas in 2018.

‘Credible acquirer’

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

Madison Dearborne and HPS subsequently rolled Arachas into Ardonagh, which the US companies already controlled, last June.

Mr Lowe, chief executive of Hooper Dolan, said: “Having been approached for our business a number of times over the last few years we were confident that Arachas was the only credible acquirer. Our businesses share a strong vision, a mirrored culture and with the scale of the group we are certain they are the right owners for the next stage of our journey.”

A spokesman for Arachas declined to comment on the value of the Hooper Dolan acquisition.

Ardonagh is home to a number of well-known UK brokerages, including Bishopsgate, Towergate and Carole Nash, and led by Westmeath native David Ross.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times