Livingstone has advised the shareholders of Bowmark Capital backed Aston Lark, a leading insurance broker and employee benefits provider, on its agreed sale to Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. Completion of the transaction is expected to occur following receipt of approvals from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Central Bank of Ireland, and antitrust approval. Livingstone and Macquarie Capital acted as joint advisors.
Aston Lark, which was formed from the merger of Aston Scott and Lark in September 2017, is the UK’s fifth largest independent chartered insurance broker. It specialises in commercial insurance, private client insurance and employee benefit advice, and operates from 27 regional offices, serving over 100,000 customers and placing in excess of £350 million of annual premium. The company distributes insurance products on behalf of most of the leading UK insurers, and focuses on the provision of complex policies requiring a high level of service.
Bowmark originally invested in Aston Scott in May 2015, supporting a management buy-in team led by Group CEO, Peter Blanc. Since Bowmark’s investment, the team has successfully completed a total of 13 bolt-on acquisitions, as well as the transformational merger of Aston Scott and Lark in 2017. Whilst pursuing this expansion strategy, the company has continued to deliver the highest standard of service for its clients, which has been recognised by a number of industry awards.
Peter Blanc, Aston Lark’s group chief executive, commented: “With Bowmark’s support, Aston Lark has made superb progress. As well as making significant investment in the business and our people, we have been successful in driving accelerated growth, by acquiring a number of high-quality insurance brokers that have helped to enhance the group’s product and service offering. I look forward to working with Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division on the next phase of the company’s journey.”
Julian Masters, Bowmark partner, said: “We have greatly enjoyed working with Peter and his team to deliver on the company’s growth ambitions. Thanks to its continuous focus on innovation and excellence, and its ability to identify, acquire and successfully integrate complementary businesses, we believe Aston Lark is well-positioned to continue its strong track record of growth.”
The combination of Livingstone and Macquarie was particularly powerful in delivering an integrated sell side advisor that could help in all stages of the transaction spanning high level strategic advice, day to day project management and hands on granular deal support to both us and our management team, always with an overlay of great industry insight. The depth of both teams and the level of commitment and engagement delivered an exceptional result, finding the right buyer at the right value and so matching the needs of the business with those of all the stakeholders. Frankly you cannot really ask for more than that in an advisor.”
Peter Blanc went on to add: “At Aston Lark we talk to our clients constantly about the value of professional advice. Having an expert by your side making sure that you’re making the right decisions is vital when you’re dealing with important matters. So, when we decided to seek further investment in Aston Lark we made sure that we had top quality advisors by our side.
I’m delighted that we chose Livingstone and Macquarie to handle this process for us. The quality of information produced was first class, their market connectivity was second to none and the outcome we achieved finding a new partner in Goldman Sachs is testament to their help and guidance along the way.”
Simon Cope-Thompson, partner at Livingstone said: “We are delighted to have helped the Aston Lark shareholders on the sale to Goldman Sachs. Peter and his management team, with the support and backing of Bowmark, have created a market leading platform within the insurance services space, which is well-placed to continue to grow organically and via acquisition with the support of their new funders.”