Willis Towers Watson (WTW) will sell its 85 percent stake in wholesale London market broker Miller to private equity firm Cinven and GIC, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund that will also acquire the remaining shares held by partners.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2021.
Miller was earmarked for a sale earlier this year, ahead of Aon’s acquisition of WTW. But the plans were put on hold in April due to uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cinven and GIC said Miller is “an attractive investment opportunity” at a time of rate hardening in the sector and potential growth in specialty insurance. The joint consortium added that Miller will “benefit significantly from independent ownership, given the ability to accelerate its long-term growth profile”.
As an independent business, Miller will recruit new specialist brokers. It plans to expand through organic growth and “bolt-on M&A over time”. Greg Collins, CEO of Miller, said it will make “incremental targeted, strategic investments” to strengthen its position in core markets.
Cinven, which recently named financial services as a focus for investment, has previously invested in the insurance sector, including stakes in Guardian Financial Services in the UK, Eurovita in Italy and Viridium in Germany. Cinven said it will look at other opportunities to invest in Europe’s financial services sector. GIC has previously taken stakes in Mass Mutual in Asia and China Pacific Insurance.
Luigi Sbrozzi, partner of Cinven, said: “Miller is a highly attractive, resilient specialist insurance business with strong long-term growth opportunities across all of its segments and a history of consistent growth through various economic cycles. We see opportunities both organically, by recruiting new specialist brokers, and through incremental M&A over time. Miller also offers a scalable platform, particularly internationally, with associated benefits for clients as the business develops and expands over the long term. We believe that independent ownership is the right model to really accelerate the company’s growth.”
Yong Cheen Choo, chief investment officer of private equity at GIC, said: “We are pleased to partner with Cinven and look forward to supporting Greg Collins and his team to seize future expansion opportunities for Miller. As a long-term investor, we are confident in the growth potential of the specialty insurance sector, and of Miller within it.”
Miller employs 640 staff in offices based in the UK, Brussels, Paris, Singapore and Geneva. It operates as separate Lloyd’s broker and retained its brand name when Willis acquired 85% of Miller Insurance Services in 2015.
Willis moved its own wholesale business to Miller, and integrated Miller’s treaty reinsurance and financial institutions business into the parent group. Miller also owns London broker Alston Gayler, which it acquired at the end of 2018.