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Howden buys British broker Aston Lark



(Reuters) – UK insurance broker Howden Broking Group Ltd. has bought the British insurance broker Aston Lark from Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP and Bowmark Capital LLP, the companies said on Wednesday.

Howden paid £ 1.1 billion ($ 1.5 billion)) for the acquisition, according to a source familiar with the matter, its largest acquisition to date.

The deal will create a British company in Howden that handles over £ 6 billion in gross premiums for more than 1.7 million policyholders in the UK and Ireland, the companies said in a statement.

Aston Lark CEO Peter Blanc will become CEO of Howden's UK retailer. Aston Lark specializes in complex commercial and private customer insurance and employee advice.

Globally focused companies such as Howden compete for scale with the world's three best insurance brokers Marsh LLC, Aon PLC and Willis Towers Watson PLC. A $ 30 billion merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson fell through in July.

After the Aston Lark deal, "you will see us really expand our operations in Europe," Howden Group CEO David Howden told Reuters, adding that the company was "also expanding rapidly" in the Asia-Pacific region.

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