Austbrokers launch their assault on the broking market.

Australian broker network Austbrokers Holdings Ltd has thrown down the gauntlet to Marsh and Aon, launching Austbrokers Corporate as “an assault” on the broking giants.

Austbrokers Holdings floated on the Australian Stock Exchange in late November and launched its corporate division to underwriters the following week. Steve Osborne and Martin Van Rhoon will jointly lead the new division and expect it to write AUS$50m of business in the first 12 months. “I think it's fair to say the market is hungry for a new player,” said Van Rhoon.

The pair has a directive to “aggressively grow” the corporate division and Osborne said it would initially target the top 500 Australian companies. “The purpose of the corporate division is really to launch an assault on the corporate broking market, Aon and Marsh. Many of our staff are ex-Aon.”

He denied Austbrokers Corporate would compete with the 34 brokers already existing under the Austbrokers umbrella. Most members of the network, which operates on an “owner/driver” model where Austbrokers owns 50% of the business, deal with the SME market and Osborne said those members did not have the capacity to delve into the corporate market.

Austbrokers Corporate will operate independently, with few opportunities for member brokers unless they already have suitable clients. “It will complement the existing broker network. The existing book of business will be left alone. Some [existing] business could be identified as corporate business, but will remain where it is,” Osborne said.

Before its public launch, Austbrokers Corporate had 15 clients and that was expected to grow to 40 in the first year. It is based in Sydney, and has seven staff, including Osborne and Van Rhoon. Staff have “considerable broking experience” and account servicing staff also have London market experience, Osborne said. Aon and Marsh were tight-lipped on the latest competition and neither would comment.