Firms in “advanced deal discussions”

UK-based insurance and reinsurance broker Cooper Gay and US wholesale broker Swett & Crawford have confirmed they are in advanced merger discussions.

The firms said that the combined business, if the merger goes ahead, would be the world’s largest independent global wholesale and reinsurance broker.

The two businesses would combine under a new group holding company, which will retain a high proportion of ownership by the working employees. Management of the combined group will be led by Toby Esser, currently chief executive of Cooper Gay, as group chief executive. Neal Abernathy will continue as chief executive of Swett & Crawford, with Cooper Gay’s North American businesses reporting to him as well.

Cooper Gay and Swett & Crawford together place $3.5 bn in premiums in the London, US and international insurance markets and employ over 1,500 staff based in more than 60 offices across four continents.

“The Cooper Gay team is very excited about the prospect of joining forces with Swett & Crawford to form the world’s largest independent wholesale, reinsurance and specialist brokers with a very substantial presence in the key US market,” said Esser in a statement. “The new group will be unique in terms of our range of products and market access. We have made no secret of our desire to grow both organically and through transactions and the proposed deal will accelerate this process while providing us with outstanding opportunities for future development.”

Abernathy added: “Swett & Crawford is delighted to be in transaction talks with Cooper Gay as the strong synergies and excellent strategic fit between our businesses presents a very appealing proposition for the support of our clients and development of our staff. In addition, the creation of the new independent broking group with $3.5 billion in premiums will enable us to take advantage of further opportunities in the global insurance and reinsurance markets.”