Equity Firm Cinven and Singapore’s GIC to Buy Insurance Broker Miller from Willis

By | November 9, 2020

Private equity firm Cinven and GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, have agreed to acquire London-based specialist insurance and (re)insurance broker Miller from its partners and corporate member, Willis Towers Watson.

The firms did not disclose financial details of the transaction. However, Bloomberg reported that the deal values the business at about 680 million pounds ($896 million), according to people familiar with the matter.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and is subject to regulatory approval.

The announcement comes amid the pandemic and the process of WTW merging with rival Aon.

In a February filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, WTW announced that it was considering “strategic alternatives” with respect to Miller. WTW purchased an 85% stake in Miller 2015.

In April, WTW said it was postponing its planned sale of Miller, without identifying any potential buyers.

“Given the current COVID-19 outbreak and associated uncertainty, we have paused our current efforts to explore strategic alternatives for Miller. WTW and Miller remain committed to the process and will make an announcement in due course,” said a statement issued by WTW on Friday, April 3.

Founded in 1902, Miller operates in the UK, Lloyd’s and internationally. It employs more than 640 people through its offices in London, Ipswich, Brussels, Paris, Singapore and Geneva. Miller’s specialty areas include marine, energy, credit and political risks, delegated authorities, professional risks, property, casualty, sports and entertainment and (re)insurance.

Miller places c. £2 billion worth of premiums annually.

Cinven and GIC said they were attracted to invest in Miller based in part on it being a cash generative business model with a strong position in the wholesale insurance markets. They said the underlying insurance market is forecast to “continue growing in line with GDP, with potential additional upside for specialty insurers, further supported by short-term rate hardening.”

Cinven Funds’ previous investments in the European insurance sector include Guardian Financial Services in the UK, Eurovita in Italy, and Viridium in Germany. Other UK-headquartered financial services investments by the Cinven Funds include Partnership Assurance, NewDay and Premium Credit. GIC has invested in companies such as Rothesay and RAC in the UK, Mass Mutual Asia in Hong Kong, and China Pacific Insurance group in China.

The Miller transaction represents the first investment from Cinven’s new financial services sector-focused strategy, which will be looking at similar long-term opportunities across Europe.

Luigi Sbrozzi, partner of Cinven, called Miller 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.”

Yong Cheen Choo, chief investment officer of Private Equity, GIC, said his firm is “confident in the growth potential of the specialty insurance sector, and of Miller within it.”

Greg Collins, CEO, Miller, thanked WTW for its support over the last five years.

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