Liberty Mutual to expand its presence in Ireland

Boston-based insurer is acquiring Hughes Insurance, a leading broker in Northern Ireland

 Liberty Mutual is planning to expand its presence in Ireland by acquiring Hughes Insurance. Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Liberty Mutual is planning to expand its presence in Ireland by acquiring Hughes Insurance. Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

 

Boston-based insurer Liberty Mutual is planning to expand its presence in Ireland by acquiring Hughes Insurance, a leading broker in Northern Ireland.

The deal will close on July 1st 2015, after which the US company’s Irish subsidiary, Liberty Insurance, will underwrite all Hughes’ products. The acquisition price has not been disclosed.

The long lead-in time to the acquisition is to allow for a full cycle of policy renewals to be effected although Liberty Insurance, formerly known as Quinn Insurance, will begin writing new policies for Hughes from next month. At renewal, Hughes’ existing customers will be offered Liberty products.

Set up in 1977, Hughes is Northern Ireland’s leading independent insurance broker offering motor, van, household, SME commercial insurance and travel insurance. It had £60 million in gross written premium for the financial year ending March 31st 2014 and has a 20 per cent market share.

It employs more than 300 staff at its headquarters in Newtownards, Co Down and 11 other branches in the North. The company will continue to be led by chief executive Gareth Brady and his current management team.

Commenting on the transaction, Patrick O’Brien, chief executive of Liberty Insurance, said: “Over the past two years Liberty Insurance has built a substantial business in the Republic. Liberty’s acquisition of Hughes and our appointment as lead underwriter will enable us to build a leading presence in the Northern Ireland market through Hughes’ established network.”

Liberty began offering insurance products in Northern Ireland in the third quarter of last year and Mr O’Brien said the Hughes acquisition would enable it to expand its business there.

Mr Brady said the deal would open up a “range of exciting opportunities for our talented workforce across Northern Ireland”.

Liberty entered the Irish market in 2001 when it took control of 51 per cent of Quinn Insurance, paying €102 million as part of a recapitalisation of the business with Irish Bank Resolution Corporation contributing €98 million for 49 per cent.

Liberty acquired IBRC’s stake in the business following the bank’s dramatic liquidation by the Government in February 2013. It operates from offices in Cavan, Dublin and Enniskillen and employs about 1,000 staff.