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Howden buys UK broker Aston Lark


(Reuters) – UK insurance brokerage Howden Broking Group Ltd. has bought UK insurance broker Aston Lark from Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP and Bowmark Capital LLP, the firms said on Wednesday.

Howden paid £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) for the acquisition, according to a source familiar with the matter, its largest acquisition to date.

The deal will create a UK business at Howden managing over £6 billion of gross written premiums for more than 1.7 million policyholders in Britain and Ireland, the firms said in a statement.

Aston Lark CEO Peter Blanc will become executive chairman of Howden's UK retail broking operations. Aston Lark specializes in complex commercial and private client insurance and employee benefits advice.

Globally-focused firms such as Howden are competing for scale with the world's top three insurance brokers Marsh LLC, Aon PLC and Willis Towers Watson PLC. A $30 billion merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson fell through in July.

Following the Aston Lark deal, "you'll see us really expand our operations in Europe," Howden Group CEO David Howden told Reuters, adding the firm was also "expanding rapidly" in the Asia-Pacific region.





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