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UNW (Newcastle, United Kingdom) helps project manage global marine insurance merger

The merger of two global, North East-headquartered maritime insurance organisations – who together will have a half a billion dollar turnover making it one of the region’s most significant transactions of recent years – was project managed by BKR International member firm, business advisers UNW.

UNW’s Mark Simpson was drafted in to assist in managing the merger of Newcastle’s North of England P&I Association (North) with Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company Limited (SMMI), based in Durham.

Simpson undertook a six month secondment as Project Manager to help ensure the transaction, which earlier this week created one of the largest marine insurance operations of its kind with around 350 staff globally, went through smoothly.

This was a complex process and included ensuring that the merger was approved by numerous regulating authorities across the world including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska and South Africa.UNW corporate finance senior manager Mark Simpson said: “It has been fascinating to work on this merger, not only because of its global significance but also because organisations of this size and reputation do not come together every day.

“Both organisations had their own project teams but my role was to assist in managing the pre-completion activities. I am from a corporate finance background with day-to-day experience of working on these types of transactions, which added additional depth to the role.

“I have now handed over to the integration team and wish the enlarged business continued success and know they will work fantastically together on this exciting opportunity to continue to expand their offering and further enhance their reputations in the sector.”

Joint North managing directors Paul Jennings and Alan Wilson said: “Mark immediately fitted in well with both existing project teams at North and SMMI and worked with them to ensure that the merger planning and execution happened according to the tight time scales we were working to.”

SMMI chief executive Geoff Parkinson said: “Mark’s assistance during the pre-completion phase of the merger was invaluable. He has been involved with the merger for six months and will now hand over to the integration team, ensuring that all of the pre-completion points have been satisfied.”

Founded in 1860, North is the second largest marine mutual liability insurer providing liability insurance to 5,000 ships entered by 330 Members worldwide.

It is based in Newcastle upon Tyne with regional offices in Greece, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, and employs over 230 people.

Meanwhile Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company Limited is a leading insurer of fishing vessels, small craft and aquaculture risks, with over 29,000 policies in more than 50 countries.

SMMI was founded in 1882 is based in Durham with 13 other offices in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and North America, and employs around 120 people. The combined premium income of the new organisation, which plans to retain both offices on Newcastle’s Quayside and in Aykley Heads, Durham, as well as its existing workforce, is currently around US$500m.

SMMI will operate as a subsidiary company of North and SMMI’s Chief Executive, Geoff Parkinson, and Directors Trevor Hart and Peter Johnson will join North’s board.

UNW adds to its team with London corporate finance specialist

A deals expert, who ran, restructured and sold an £11m turnover London-based learning company under the age of 30, has joined the corporate finance team at business advisers UNW.

John Healey
, 31, has joined the Newcastle-based professional services firm as a corporate finance senior manager after spending the last 12 years in London advising on a range of transactions for companies ranging from FTSE-100s to smaller owner-managed businesses.

unw_john-healey-feb-2014-3Healey, an award winning Chartered Accountant, trained, and spent 10 years with, big four firm PwC. He then went on to head up, restructure and sell an £11m turnover learning, training and education company in the capital.

He will now work with UNW’s corporate finance team as part of its M&A advisory service. The team at UNW provides advice on mergers, acquisitions, disposals, management buyouts, fund raisings, institutional bid support and strategic reviews across the North East and nationally.

Healey, originally from Stamford, Lincolnshire, said: “What appealed to me about UNW was that it’s an entrepreneurial professional services firm which is well established nationally, as well as regionally, which was important to me.

“It is progressive, very focussed on its clients and growing rapidly despite the recession, so with that comes inevitable opportunity. When we were looking to locate the family to the North East they were a stand out choice for me.”

UNW corporate finance partner Paul Kaiser said: “We are delighted to welcome someone of John’s experience and look forward to working with him on a range of transactions across a wide range of sectors.

“His experience is unique in that he has sat on both sides of the table, as an adviser and then as the CEO of an SME business. John joins us at a time when UNW continues to grow year-on-year and work on some of the region’s largest and most notable deals.”

2013 was a busy year for UNW, advising Wilton Engineering, Middlesbrough, on restructuring and refinance; the sale of a minority interest in Newcastle’s Nigel Frank International to ISIS Equity Partners, the management buyout of Learning Curve, County Durham, the sale of Teesside-based National Numbers to Jepson and, outside of the region, the finance raising for Salford University student accommodation.


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