Alec Finch sets its sights on Europe after French sale

Manchester-based broker Alec Finch became the third independent broker to be sold in a single week a...

Manchester-based broker Alec Finch became the third independent broker to be sold in a single week amid a flurry of acquisition activity last month.

The insurance and risk management firm was bought by French insurance group Verlingue, which will add Alec Finch's Halifax, London and Manchester offices to its existing branches in Quimper, Nantes, Paris, Illzach, Strasbourg and Tourcoing. This will take employee levels to 600 people, and generate premiums in excess of £400m.

Alec Finch, who will continue as chairman of the UK operations, said: "We are starting to build a pan-European business in line with an economic landscape that is increasingly European and increasingly subject to a European regulatory framework."

Mr Finch claimed that by selling to Verlingue, his firm was able to avoid selling the business to one of the UK consolidators: "The existing consolidation model could, in time, prove to be unstable, and we did not want to become involved."

Jacques Verlingue, president of Verlingue, who has known Alec Finch on a personal level for 15 years through the Worldwide Broker Network, said that he was "excited by the prospect of the synergies we will generate by combining the best of British and French cultures for the benefit of our employees and clients".

Mr Finch was keen to deny rumours that the sale would lead to the company embarking upon an acquisition drive, saying that the firm was committed to organic growth. However, he was unwilling to completely exclude the possibility of acquisitions in the future.

The acquisition of Alec Finch is the first venture outside France for Verlingue, and it was confirmed that the UK broker would retain its existing branding and indentity. Mr Finch was reported to be committed to the firm for the next two years.

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