Ageas to become a bigger player in insurance sector after £116m takeover

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The group behind insurance cover for Tesco, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis yesterday announced a £116m takeover deal that will see it add another million policyholders in the UK.

Ageas, which also owns Kwik Fit Financial Services and over-50s insurer Castle Cover, has agreed to buy Groupama’s UK insurance operations to boost its presence in sectors including car, motorcycle and home.

Groupama is an underwriter for the AA as well as provider of non-standard cover and niche small business policies, largely through brokers. It employs around 600 people at offices in Manchester, Borehamwood, Portsmouth and Croydon.

Ageas said the deal, which is expected to complete by the end of the year, will make it the fourth largest motor insurer, the fifth biggest non-life insurer and fourth largest personal cover firm.

Groupama will be kept as a separate subsidiary, but is expected to be rebranded as Ageas at some stage. Ageas, which was previously known as Fortis in the UK, said it was too early to comment on any impact on Groupama’s staff, but a spokesman said it would be “business as usual” for the two companies.

With around eight million customers in the UK, Ageas is already a significant player in the underwriting market. It has been writing car and home insurance for Tesco Bank customers since 2010, and provides cover for a number of other well-known high street names, including the Post Office.

Headquartered in Eastleigh, the group employs more than 5,400 staff and has offices in Belfast, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Gloucester, London, Reigate and Stoke-on-Trent.