£1.6bn sale of Fylde insurance company

The Guardian site in Ballam Road, Lytham.
The Guardian site in Ballam Road, Lytham.
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Employees at a specialist insurance group on the Fylde are set to get new owners.

Staff at Guardian Financial Services, Ballam Road, will be working for new parent group Swiss Re after a £1.6bn deal was agreed.

Guardian had been the target of a number of suitors who wanted to buy it from its current private equity owners Cinven.

Phoenix - Britain’s largest closed fund consolidator - last week confirmed it was in talks over a possible takeover.

The deal is set to be completed in early 2016, but no details of how it might affect job prospects for the 185 staff at Lytham have been given.

Swiss Re which is headquartered in Zurich, said its Admin Re division will buy Guardian to bolster its position in Britain as a consolidator of life funds that are closed to new business.

Guardian manages pensions, savings and protection policies for more than 900,000 policyholders across the UK and Ireland.

The deal will boost Admin Re’s UK business to more than four million policies, up from 3.4 million currently, and increase Swiss Re’s overall assets under management by £12.5bn, or 15 per cent.

Guardian said the transaction brings to a close four successful years of partnership between Guardian and Cinven, during which time Guardian’s underlying UK Group net profit has increased by 285 per cent to £104m in 2014 from £27m in 2010 and Guardian’s market consistent embedded value increased by 540 per cent to £2.7bn from £0.4bn.

Ian Owen, Executive Chairman of Guardian, said: “I’m delighted that the next chapter in Guardian’s long history will be as part of one of the leading closed book consolidators in the UK. Admin Re has a proven track record in integrating life portfolios onto its platform while maintaining a high level of customer service for policyholders.

“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.”

Bob Ratcliffe, of Admin Re, said: “Admin Re has an expert team and the infrastructure in place to ensure we can bring the benefits of scale that make a closed life book consolidator successful.”