Bridgepoint agrees sale of broking firm

The European buyout investor has agreed to sell Opus Holdings, a UK regional insurance broker, to Willis Group for an undisclosed sum.

London-based European buyout business Bridgepoint has announced an agreement to sell portfolio company Opus Holdings to global insurance broker Willis Group. The consideration has not been disclosed for the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of the year.  

Opus, which was acquired by Bridgepoint in September 1998, has a UK regional insurance broking business and a group benefits consultancy arm. The two parts of the business have combined revenues of approximately £13 million ($24 million).

In a statement, Bridgepoint said that, following the transaction’s completion, Opus and the commercial division of Willis UK & Ireland will merge their operations. The merger will exclude Opus’ IFA (independent financial adviser) business, which for regulatory reasons will trade as an independent entity “while continuing to work closely with Willis business units on behalf of its customers”.

Lexicon Partners acted as corporate finance advisers to Bridgepoint on the deal, while Travers Smith Braithwaite provided the firm with legal advice. Willis received legal advice from DLA and Feagre Benson Hobson Audley.

The Opus sale represents Bridgepoint’s 11th exit from a portfolio company so far in 2004, others having included Western Wines, Dennis Eagle and OyezStraker. The firm has completed six new investments during the year, including retailer Pets at Home (£230 million) and debt purchase and collection services business 1st Credit (£72 million).