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Willis agrees to sell wholesale broker Miller Insurance Services


Private equity firm Cinven Ltd. and GIC Private Ltd., Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, have agreed to acquire Miller Insurance Services LLP, the London-based wholesale unit of Willis Towers Watson PLC.

The deal, announced Monday, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Willis Towers Watson said in February it was reviewing strategic options for Miller, which it bought in 2015. In March, it was announced that Aon PLC planned to acquire Willis Towers Watson in a deal expected to close in 2021.

Founded in 1902, Miller is a specialist insurance and reinsurance broker operating in the United Kingdom, Lloyd’s and internationally. It has more than 640 employees in offices in London; Ipswich, England; Brussels; Paris; Geneva; and Singapore.

Miller places more than £2 billion of premiums annually across specialty lines, including marine, energy, credit and political risks, delegated authorities, professional risks, property, casualty, sports and entertainment, and reinsurance.

In a statement Monday, Cinven and GIC cited Miller’s strong position in the wholesale insurance markets, long-standing client base, management team, and record of steady and consistent growth.

“We believe that independent ownership is the right model to really accelerate the company’s growth,” Luigi Sbrozzi, partner of Cinven, said in the statement.

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,” the statement said.

Cinven will be looking at similar long-term opportunities in the financial services sector across Europe, the statement said.

The partnership will strengthen Miller’s position in its core activities, Greg Collins, CEO of Miller, said in the statement.

 “This includes making incremental targeted, strategic investments as we look to realize our ambition of becoming the leading independent specialist (re)insurance broking firm,” Mr. Collins said.

Reduced demand for coverage for sporting and other events during the pandemic impacted Miller in the third quarter, according to Willis Towers Watson’s earnings call with analysts last week.

Miller represents about 13% of the investment risk & reinsurance segment for Willis, putting its annual revenue at around $215 million, according to equity research analysts for property/casualty insurance at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in New York.

From a regulatory perspective, the Miller sale is independent to the regulatory process for the Aon and Willis merger, the Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a note Monday.

As a result it does not count against the $1.8 billion divestiture cap included within the merger, the insurance analysts wrote.