Several funds in the ranks to enter the capital of number 2 insurance brokerage

At a time when Gras Savoye, the number 1 insurance brokerage in France risks being cut, international investors are battling to acquire a stake in French number 2 Siaci Saint Honoré, in the process of merging with its competitor Diot.

The group founded by Pierre Donnersberg and the owner of Diot, Christian Burrus, have initiated an auction process to open nearly half of the capital of the new group. It wants to offer an alternative to companies facing the global giants Marsh, Aon and Willis Towers Watson – the latter two being in the process of getting closer.

On the date of submission of indicative offers in April, large investment funds rushed to the door, according to several sources. The Americans Warburg Pincus, Blackstone and Apollo are cited as well as the Canadian OTTP, which manages the pension funds for teachers in Ontario and the British ICG and Towerbrook.

Don’t see the control slip away

“Two or three will be selected and will be supported by bpifrance which must invest. The Emirati Mubadala also wishes to acquire a stake, and would allow Siaci Saint Honoré to open the doors to the Gulf market, ”indicate sources familiar with the matter. In mid-May, the latter will have to submit their final offer.

But by then, a minority leader will have to be identified. “Discussions take time because there are many interests present among the reference shareholders. What is certain is that they do not want to bring in a large minority and then see control escape them, ”said a source.

Christian Burrus, successor of Pierre Donnersberg

The new entrants, which could include “family offices”, will have to accept the governance conditions of the founder, but also those of the businessman Christian Burrus, the future successor of Pierre Donnersberg at the head of the group.

Ultimately, the latter will own 35% of the future group. The idea is that it holds, with the management and employees of the two brokers, a little more than 50% of the capital of the new group, weighing around 700 million euros in gross turnover.

The Ardian fund, which owns around 8% of SIACI today, should for its part reinvest. The British Charterhouse would come out. The latter had entered Siaci three years ago, valuing the broker a little over 1 billion euros. The latter, having recorded gross sales of 465 million euros in 2020, is already valued with the merger with Diot at around 2.5 billion euros. The closing of the operation could suppose a debt raising of around 700 million euros.

In parallel, Gras Savoye, the number one in the sector should be fixed on his fate in the next few days. The American Gallagher is in pole position to get his hands on the broker owned by Willis Towers Watson. It remains to be seen whether this will involve a breakdown of Gras Savoye. This sale would respond to concerns expressed by the European Commission on the impact of the merger between Willis and Aon supposed to be completed this year.

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