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Gallagher turns Blue for latest acquisition

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Arthur J Gallagher has bought Brisbane-based Blue Holdings, hot on the heels of acquiring Instrat Insurance Brokers.

Blue Holdings – incorporating Blue Broking and the Blue Insolvency business – was set up in 2005 with a focus on the Queensland mid-market sector.

Major shareholder Paul Lynam, who is also CEO of the Gallagher-owned Pen Underwriting agency, told insuranceNEWS.com.au the time is right for him to exit broking.

“I have sold out of the business to concentrate on Pen Underwriting,” he said. “I have no involvement in broking any more. It’s a competitive environment and the shareholders chose to go with Gallagher.

“I’m sure Gallagher will be a very good home for it.”

Blue has 45 staff in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Townsville and Melbourne.

Gallagher Australia and New Zealand MD Steve Lockwood says the acquisition will expand the group’s broking operations and bring a new specialisation.

“Its strength in the Queensland market will be a great fit to our existing commercial and corporate businesses there, and its national capability in insolvency insurance… will be a new niche area for us,” he said.

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions, and comes just days after the takeover of Melbourne-based Instrat Insurance Brokers.

Blue Broking was a Steadfast broker and Instrat was a member of IBNA.

Instrat was established in 1994 by Peter Johnston and Jim Santamaria, and employs 49 staff.

It specialises in tailored programs for tradespeople, franchisees, licensees, associations and medical professionals.

“Acquiring well-run businesses with a good cultural and strategic fit is a key priority for us and we remain very active in this area,” Mr Lockwood said.

Pen Underwriting is also on the acquisition trail, last week announcing the purchase of QBE Placement Services (QPS).

QPS is a specialist in London market binder contracts and facultative placements, offering smaller brokers access to the Lloyd’s and specialist markets. It was part of the Concord Group of underwriting agencies, which was purchased by QBE in 2006.

Its book of business includes portfolios in general liability, leisure liability, professional risks and niche property risks.

While QBE will continue to be the underwriter for the portfolio, the management of binders previously underwritten by QPS will now be undertaken by Pen Underwriting.

“It’s been a busy week,” Mr Lynam told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “From a Pen point of view, we are on the lookout for any acquisitions that suit the business. We have aspirations to grow the business in this country.”