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Ascent to Launch Transaction Risk proposition with Alex Smith hire

December 5, 2018

Reporting to Chief Underwriting Officer Gareth Tungatt, Smith will establish a transactional risk business line and build a team as part of Ascent’s ongoing development of its specialty, niche classes.

He will join Ascent from Capital Risks where he served as Underwriting Director and was previously an underwriter at AIG within the M&A insurance group. He joined AIG from corporate finance advisory firm Kinmont Limited where he worked as an analyst.

Smith’s appointment follows that of Casper Stops as Head of Cyber in October. Further appointment and product announcements are expected as Ascent continues to expand in its chosen niches.

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Preservation Capital Partners announces completion of BMS investment

BMS Group, (“BMS”), the independent specialist (re)insurance broker, today announced the completion of the significant equity investment by affiliates of Preservation Capital Partners (“PCP”) and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”) first announced in June. All required regulatory approvals have been secured.

Management and staff of BMS maintain a significant shareholding in the company and CEO Nick Cook and the executive management team remain unchanged. Representatives from BCI and PCP have now joined the BMS board.

BMS has continued to expand its capabilities, with over 140  significant broking, analytical and actuarial hires in the past 18 months including: Nick Moss (Global FD, JLT Re); Pete Chandler (Deputy CEO US reinsurance, JLT Re); James Chicken (director, Price Forbes & Partners); Gregg Holtmeier (managing director North American casualty, Guy Carpenter); Neil Prior (Chief Executive, Priority Underwriting); and Clare Whitlam (senior vice president, actuary, JLT Re). This expansion is set to gather pace following completion.

Nick Cook commented: “With BMS’s long-term future as an independent broker secured, BMS is poised for strong profitable growth. With the capital strength of BCI and PCP behind us, we are expanding in the North American reinsurance market and other high growth specialty and emerging risk lines that consistently generate strong performance. BMS has become the alternative broker of choice, with a full suite of analytical and actuarial capabilities to rival and, in some areas, exceed those of the world’s biggest broking firms, making it an attractive home for the industry’s leading talent.

“This major investment is a ringing endorsement of the London market and its continued leading role in the world’s insurance markets. I am convinced that our strategic partnership with BCI and PCP will be the gold standard for long-term investment in global wholesale and reinsurance broking for years to come.”

Preservation Capital Partners and BCI announce investment into BMS

BMS, one of the leading specialty lines focused insurance brokers globally, today announces an agreement for a significant investment by affiliates of Preservation Capital Partners (“PCP”) and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”). The investment, which values BMS at £500m, is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter.

The BMS management team, led by chief executive officer Nick Cook, will all remain in their current roles following completion, and management and staff of BMS will remain significant shareholders in the company.

Nick Cook commented: “The long-term investment by BCI and PCP secures our future as an independent broker and maintains significant employee ownership. We have grown consistently over the past 5 years generating revenues in excess of £100m for the first time in 2018. We look forward to partnering with PCP and BCI as we continue to invest in our business and attract market leading talent to the benefit of our clients. My thanks go to all of our colleagues who have been at the root of our success.”

Dane Douetil, CEO of Minova added: “This investment is excellent news for BMS’s dedicated staff, who will remain important shareholders, and particularly for BMS clients who will continue to benefit from the very best independent advice in the market. It is also a ringing endorsement of the London market and, following considerable consolidation in the broking sector, ensures that an independent voice will continue to be heard.”

Jatender Aujla, a Partner of Preservation Capital commented: “We have been impressed by the growth BMS has experienced since Nick and his management team took over the business. Today, BMS is one of the largest independent specialty lines focused insurance brokers in the London market. We look forward to working with the team as long term partners and helping them seize the significant opportunities available in the market.”

Gordon J. Fyfe, CEO/CIO of BCI said: “As an investor of patient capital, we seek companies with a sustainable competitive advantage that offer value-add services and are led by talented management teams. BCI’s long-term investment in BMS allows them to grow the business and generate the returns that our pension plan and accident fund clients require. Our investment also provides regional and sector diversity to our clients’ private equity portfolio.”

Preservation Capital invests to build MGA powerhouse

Preservation Capital Partners (“Preservation Capital”), the financial services-focused private equity firm which last year acquired an interest in the insurTech-driven cyber and specialty lines MGA Ascent Underwriting (“Ascent”), has made a strategic investment in US construction-focused MGA Cove Programs (“Cove”).

Together the business will manage in excess of $200 million GWP, making it one of the largest independently owned emerging risk and specialty lines MGAs. Ascent and Cove will continue to operate under their respective market-leading brands. Each is a pioneer in speciality product development and distribution within their respective markets, supported by best-in-class underwriting and claims teams. However, senior management will come together to drive forward the continued creation of value for brokers, markets, and clients through product innovation and technology.

David Umbers, who is to become Executive Chairman of the combined group, said: “Joining with Cove will give us important critical mass. Like Ascent, Cove Programs are innovators; by driving forward together we will have greater breadth and resources to serve our brokers and clients. It will also extend each companies’ distribution, both inwards and outwards. We are excited by the combination and growth opportunity that lies ahead of us, and together will focus on continued organic growth with the objective of significantly scaling the business.”

Kevin Hastings, who is to become Chief Executive of the combined group, said: “We are uniting at a corporate level, however there will be no change in who does what from day to day. Instead we will realise synergies between our two entirely complementary businesses. Together we have no business overlap; only opportunity. For example, Cove’s clients include over 60 top US homebuilders and 70 top commercial general contractors. Ascent’s cyber insurance products will be extremely valuable to them.”

Jatender Aujla, a Partner of Preservation Capital, said: “Ascent has made significant progress since our initial investment just over a year ago, particularly in the areas of product development and distribution. Cove is an extremely impressive business with a focus on highly specialised niches generating superior underwriting and insurance placement results. The companies have highly respected brands, the loyalty of brokers and customers, and incredibly experienced management teams supported by industry-leading specialists. Together they comprise a very strong business possessing all the ingredients for controlled, successful growth focused on generating superior underwriting results while serving the broad needs of their brokers and clients.”

Terms of the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory approvals, are not disclosed.

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Ascent to Launch Transaction Risk proposition with Alex Smith hire

Reporting to Chief Underwriting Officer Gareth Tungatt, Smith will establish a transactional risk business line and build a team as part of Ascent’s ongoing development of its specialty, niche classes.
He will join Ascent from Capital Risks where he served as Underwriting Director and was previously an underwriter at AIG within the M&A insurance group. He joined AIG from corporate finance advisory firm Kinmont Limited where he worked as an analyst.
Smith’s appointment follows that of Casper Stops as Head of Cyber in October. Further appointment and product announcements are expected as Ascent continues to expand in its chosen niches.

Ascent moves into political risk with Hedley hire

Specialty MGA Ascent Underwriting has expanded into political risk with the recruitment of Nick Hedley, the former head of credit and political risk at Allied World Europe, The Insurance Insider understands.
At Ascent, he will write political risk, structured trade credit and contract frustration business, starting on 1 January 2019.
Hedley began his career in the trade credit market in the early 1980s as an underwriter at Trade Indemnity. He joined AIG in 1985, working at different points in both trade credit excess of loss and political risk and structured trade credit.

He was a broker at JLT from 1995 to 2009, according to details on his LinkedIn profile. In 2010, Hedley set up Latin American Underwriters, an MGA that devoted half its political risk and credit book to Latin America.

Ascent Underwriting today announces the appointment of Caspar Stops as head of cyber and is due to start at the end of November

Stops joins from Brit, where he held the position of global cyber, privacy and technology underwriter. Previously he served at Aegis and Hiscox, also in underwriting roles.
Reporting to Chief Underwriting Officer Gareth Tungatt, Stops will spearhead the development of further innovative Ascent products, including focusing on their increased appetite for large risk while contributing to the continued profitable growth of the existing portfolio.
His appointment follows that of James Weatherstone as Non-Executive Chairman in March and Rob Harden as Chief Financial Officer in June. With considerable additional capital being provided by Preservation Capital Partners (which acquired a majority shareholding in Ascent in January), further appointment and product announcements are expected this year.
“ It is great to welcome Caspar at such an exciting and important time for Ascent. Caspar is a well-respected and an exceptionally talented underwriter, highly regarded by brokers.

He will be a significant addition to the team as we look to capitalise on our market-leading proposition and further extend our product base. ”
Gareth Tungatt, CUO.

Ascent announced the completion of its acquisition by Preservation Capital Partners, having obtained FCA approval

Ascent Underwriting (“Ascent”), the cyber and specialty lines MGA, today announced the completion of its acquisition by Preservation Capital Partners, having obtained FCA approval.

The existing Ascent management team will retain a significant shareholding in the company, and continue to manage the business during its next stages of growth. Further terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Preservation Capital Partners will provide significant additional capital to support Ascent’s ambitions to grow through the development of new business lines and complementary products. With the launch of its new Allied Health professional liability product, Ascent announced the first of several new products last week. Growth will also be achieved via the acquisition of specialist MGAs and through selective team hires.

The investment will allow Ascent to accelerate its growth, meet strongly growing global demand for cyber insurance, and to further develop its proprietary OPTIO quote-and-bind platform functionality, while expanding its global distribution and in-house talent base.

“ Since launching, Ascent has built a market leading distribution platform to deliver cyber and specialty line products to customers globally. On the back of that, we have grown rapidly to become a successful and well-regarded MGA. Our independence is important, and we are pleased it will be maintained through this deal with Preservation Capital, who are providing investment to support our strategic expansion plans. ”

David Umbers, CEO.

Preservation Capital Partners Announces First Investment with Acquisition of Ascent Underwriting

Preservation Capital Partners (“Preservation Capital”), a financial services focused private equity firm, will take a substantial stake in Ascent Underwriting (“Ascent”), a leading cyber and specialty lines MGA.

Preservation Capital will provide significant growth capital to support Ascent’s growth ambitions through the development of new business lines and complementary products via the acquisition of emerging risk/specialist MGAs and through selective team hires.

 

The investment will assist Ascent to meet the strong growth in demand for cyber insurance cover globally and further develop Ascent’s proprietary OPTIO technology platform, while expanding its global distribution and in-house talent base.

The existing management team of Ascent will retain a significant shareholding in Ascent and will continue to manage the business in its next stage of growth.

Jatender Aujla, a Partner of Preservation Capital, said: “We have been impressed by the growth Ascent has experienced since its launch in 2013. It is now one of the leading cyber markets within the Lloyd’s insurance market. The management team of Ascent has done a fantastic job in rapidly growing the business in an attractive end-market that is expected to experience significant growth over the next few years. The team has done this while maintaining exceptional underwriting performance. We see significant opportunity for further growth within cyber and in other emerging risk/specialty business lines and look forward to working with the management team to further build the business in its next stage of development.”

David Umbers, Chief executive of Ascent, said: “Since launching, Ascent has grown rapidly to become a successful and well-regarded MGA. Our independence is important, and we are pleased that our independence will be maintained through this deal with Preservation Capital who will provide us with investment to support our ambitious growth plans.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Preservation Capital was advised by Aon Securities, Norton Rose Fulbright and Alvarez & Marsal. Ascent was advised by Oakwell Capital, Boodle Hatfield and Gibson Booth.

About Preservation Capital Partners

Preservation Capital Partners is a mid-market private equity firm specialising in the financial services sector. Preservation Capital focuses on partnering with market leading companies with proven and resilient business models that have demonstrated strong growth. Preservation Capital is backed by a number of ultra-high net worth family offices and institutional investors.

About Ascent

Ascent is a leading cyber and specialty focused MGA in the Lloyds market. The business was founded in 2013 by David Umbers and Gareth Tungatt and is now recognised as one of the leading MGAs in the Lloyds market.