The boss of London-headquartered broker Ed Steve Hearn has said that its owners Lightyear Capital were not pressuring his firm into a speedy sale.
While he acknowledged that the sale process was very much ongoing, adding that he had heard from more than two-dozen potential buyers, Hearn said the firm was not under pressure to find a new home.
He said the inbound calls came mainly from private equity, although he hinted that there had been some trade interest from trade buyers.
However, the executive quelled the notion that his firm could be scooped up by one of the big three brokers.
“We are not a business that would sit well within one of our larger brethren,” Hearn said.
“All other things being equal, we want to be owned by somebody that satisfies the existing shareholders and management.”
While not under pressure to find a buyer, Hearn acknowledged that Ed was housed in Lightyear’s third fund, which he pointed out does includes other live businesses.
However, he noted that there has since been a new fund, although he explained that he was not under pressure to find a buyer, adding that there was no immediate plan to close the third fund.
But the executive stressed the need to find the right suitor. He said that he met with an private equity company, which he did not name, that said it wanted to fire the firm’s finance director and unseat its non-executive board.
The executive said that firm would not have been a good fit.
Hearn said Ed was looking for an owner that recognised the talent within the business, supported the expansion plans of management and had an understanding of the industry. When that firm comes along, Hearn suggested a protracted sale process was unlikely, explaining that Ed had very good data on its own business, which would speed up any due diligence process.
He noted that he had weekly calls with Lightyear, adding that he always told the private equity house when he was meeting with a potential suitor.
Hearn said that Ed was not the only firm likely to find itself in new hands.
He said there were still more than 200 brokers in EC3, which he described as “bonkers”. He noted that Ed has been forecasting a period of consolidation in the market for some time, although he said that was yet to come.
In a video interview with Re-Insurance yesterday, Hearn pointed to Ed’s international expansion plans as a source of growth.