BMS to grow MGA and international footprint with Eurazeo “firepower”

Nick Cook, CEO of BMS Group, has said he remains excited about the broker’s expansion into the MGA space and elsewhere internationally, and revealed plans for Eurazeo’s £355mn ($448mn) investment.

Speaking to The Insurer TV on its Leading Voices programme, Cook said that while organic growth will be a key component of its strategy, the company has been “very acquisitive” – particularly in Australia and Iberia – and will continue to be.

“Europe presents lots of opportunities,” he said. “At the moment, we're a specialty insurance broker looking at an MGA and a reinsurance play. When you think of BMS, as a whole, it's got insurance and reinsurance. We don't have that capability across all of our geographical locations. We do want to do that. We absolutely want to do that. So, in that sense, whether you're looking at specialty insurance, MGA, or reinsurance, there's a lot of opportunity.”

Cook explained that BMS decided to further develop its presence in the MGA space following previous success which gave it a taste for the sector.

“The space is well-known to us; we currently own [up to four] MGAs around the world,” said Cook.

For Cook, this expansion made organisational sense as it allows BMS to bring the full spectrum of their capabilities to the global space.

Another reason that Cook saw for BMS Group’s expansion into the program space is that it perfectly "complements" BMS's international specialty retail business.

However, one area where BMS is not looking to grow its MGA footprint, according to Cook, is in the US.

“In the US, we're a major reinsurance broker to a whole host of MGAs, so that would be a conflict. So, not in the US, but certainly internationally,” he added.

One of the ways that BMS is going to be able to afford this push into the MGA space is with a war chest accumulated through its recent financial restructuring, made possible by investment from Eurazeo.

“We have plenty of financial firepower,” affirmed Cook.

“And that was exactly why we went through what we did, you know, at a very difficult time again. We refinanced our debt, we refinanced our acquisition facility, and we refinanced our equity,” he said.

London is also on Cook’s radar to deploy some of Eurazeo’s “firepower”. While on the subject of reinsurance, Cook said: “The bulk of reinsurance business is in the US, but that is not to say that we don't have a large reinsurance business in London.

“We do,” he added. “And that's growing and that's an area of significant investment for us, as we go forward[…] I'm a massive fan of the London market.”

BMS set for more M&A

Cook also mentioned that the makeup of BMS C-Suite had been altered to reflect a push to expand through acquisitions.

“Some of our CEOs around the world are very experienced in the M&A space. In their previous organisations, they've led M&A. And that's partly why they joined BMS,” he said.

Cook was joined in the interview by former PartnerRe President and CEO Emmanuel Clarke, who joined BMS as chairman at the completion of the Eurazeo deal last September.

According to Clarke, another boon of BMS Group’s healthy network of partners is that it brings a broader selection of potential acquisitions to the firm’s attention.

“I would also add that a lot of the opportunities for M&A, we actually find them through our own network, our own people,” he said.

“There's a snowball effect, in terms of networking. The more people we attract, the more M&A we do, the more we have connections on the ground, ears on the ground, and we can actually find some of these bilaterally, sometimes below the radar, in terms of processing transactions – and that's where the best opportunities are,” he added.

Watch this 12-minute video to learn more about:

  • The leadership team’s plans for M&A in 2024
  • The general health of the London market and why it should be better at singing its own praises
  • BMS Group’s approach to ESG

If you missed part one of the interview with BMS Group’s Nick Cook and Emmanuel Clarke, it can be found here.