Life insurer Guardian sold for £1.6bn

A LIFE insurance business with operations in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, has been sold by its private equity owner for £1.6bn.

Guardian Financial Services, which has been built up by Cinven since its £27m acquisition from Dutch firm Aegon in 2011, has been bought by Admin Re – a division of Swiss Re, the reinsurance group.

Under Cinven’s ownership, Guardian has become one of the most active life insurance consolidators in the UK and Irish markets and the UK’s largest privately owned life insurance company. It has £20bn of assets under management and manages 900,000 policies.

Guardian’s underlying UK Group net profit has increased by 285% to £104m in 2014 from £27m in 2010, while a new leadership team has been installed.

Caspar Berendsen, a partner at Cinven said: “The investment in Guardian has been a highly successful one for Cinven given our ability to drive considerable growth through our ‘buy and build’ strategy with the completion of four acquisitions. We have had the pleasure of working with a highly capable senior management team at Guardian to achieve this great result and we would like to wish them every success in the future.”

Ian Owen, executive chairman of Guardian, said: “Guardian’s impressive performance is testament to the hard work of its management team and staff and the support and vision of our shareholder, Cinven. Throughout Cinven’s ownership, I have been impressed with the team’s understanding of the financial services market, especially given the complex regulatory environment, and their ability to identify and execute highly value-accretive acquisitions.”

Completion of the deal is subject to standard regulatory and competition authority clearances.

The acquisition will add 900,000 annuity, life insurance and pension policies in Britain and Ireland, boosting Admin Re’s UK business to over four million policies.