Global insurance giant Arthur J Gallagher has added another independent Irish insurance broker to its stable as the rapid consolidation of the domestic market continues.
The S&P 500-listed company has acquired the Dublin-based First Ireland Risk Management in a deal that doubles the size of the group’s Irish business “overnight”, Ronan Foley, chief executive of Gallagher in Ireland, told The Irish Times.
Gallagher said the deal will see First Ireland become part of its rapidly expanding UK and Ireland division, adding the Dublin firm’s 35,000 customers to its 1.3 million-strong client base.
The acquisition almost doubles Gallagher’s gross written premiums in Ireland from €70 million to €140 million, making it one of the top five biggest brokerage groups operating in the Irish market, Mr Foley said.
First Ireland’s joint managing directors Tony Gill and Linda Gallagher will remain with the business, reporting to Mr Foley.
Mr Foley said Gallagher is delighted to “join forces with First Ireland”, which employs more than 120 people, and offers a range of commercial and personal lines insurance as well as life and pensions products.
“I’ve been keen on looking at [First Ireland] for a number of years,” Mr Foley said, adding that the acquisition gives Gallagher “a base in Dublin, which we didn’t have”.
The deal follows several years of unprecedented consolidation within the Irish market, which continues to attract private equity investment.
Innovu, backed by MML, had been among the main driving forces behind this trend, snapping up five independent Irish brokers, including Cullen Insurances and Wexford-based PE Kelly Insurances in October 2021 before itself being acquired by Gallagher in June. Innovu had also inked deals for Sheridan Insurances, Wexford Insurances, and Goggin Insurance Brokers.
Gallagher Ireland also acquired Wexford-based broker Doyle Mahon Insurances in November 2022. The group says it now has a team of more than 275 supporting its Irish clients.
Despite shifting macroeconomic sands, Mr Foley said he does not expect the pace of deal-making within the sector to slow down over the next year.
“I think I see another 12 months of it at least,” he said. “I don’t see it falling off any time. So obviously, there will be [fewer and fewer] large targets out there. But there’s still quite a lot of smaller, mid-sized brokers that are interested in how to scale their business up. And they’re looking at other options for the future.”
Asked whether the ongoing market consolidation is good for consumers, Mr Foley said it was “hugely beneficial” for them.
“It improves the amount of compliance or regulation in the marketplace . . . because as these business consolidate you get a lot more centralised regulation.” he said. “I think that’s a benefit for customers for the businesses.”