GRP completes NI deal as Innovu acquires Cullen Insurance

Further consolidation in insurance sector as Innovu makes fourth deal in two years

London-based insurance group Global Risk Partners (GRP) has completed a deal to acquire the commercial risk and broking business of Willis Towers Watson in Northern Ireland.

The move comes amid consolidation in the sector with Innovu also announcing its fourth acquisition locally in the past two years with an agreement to buy Cullen Insurances.

GRP, which took a majority stake in Dublin-based Crotty Insurance last September, said its deal creates the largest insurance broker in the North with a combined £120 million (€138 million ) portfolio.

The acquisition, which was announced in July, sees Willis Towers Watson’s £65 million Northern Irish portfolio becoming part of ABL group.


"We have remained focused on our acquisition strategy throughout the recent challenging and disrupted times. The completion of this excellent deal, transforming ABL into the number one broker in Northern Ireland, is robust evidence of how well that focus has paid off," said GRP chief executive Mike Bruce.

“It gives us a great platform to continue to build upon our presence in Northern Ireland, and is a strong signal of our continued drive for growth through M&A across the whole of the UK and Ireland,” he added.

Founded in 2013, GRP has written gross premiums in excess of £800 million and employs more than 1,600 staff. Last year, private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in GRP.


Separately, Innovu, the private equity-backed insurance brokers group, has acquired Cullen Insurances for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is Innovu’s fourth in the past two years after the group previously acquired Goggin Insurances, Sheridan Insurances and Wexford Insurances.

MML-backed Innovu said following completion of the deal, the combined business will generate gross written premium of circa €63 million in 2021.

Cullen Insurances was established in 1974 by Bill Cullen. As part of the transaction, managing director, Douglas Howell, and director, Robert Ryan, will become shareholders in the enlarged Innovu Group with Mr Howell also joining the group's board.

Innovu said it has several other acquisitions under active consideration as it looks to extend its presence and service offering in the Republic.

"This acquisition represents an important strategic expansion of our presence in Munster and wider Irish market. It will create significant opportunities for our respective clients and staff as we continue to carefully develop our business through strategic-led acquisitions backed by strong organic growth," said Ronan Foley, chief executive of Innovu.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist