Northern Rock bidder said to be sniffing around £150 million British insurer - sources

Tuesday, 22 November 2016, 6:59 pm

Remember J.C. Flowers & Co?

If not, let me refresh your memory: it's the American private equity firm that once tried to buy failed bank Northern Rock at the height of the financial crisis in 2007. The firm also hit the headlines in 2012 after its senior London-based manager, Ravi Sinha, was fined £2.9m and banned from working in the City after defrauding J.C. Flowers & Co of more than £1m. In case you don't recall the sorry affair, below is a link to a piece written by one of my favourtie ex-colleagues, the intrepid former star Telegraph diarist Jonathan "rusty nail" Russell.

Since then, J.C Flowers & Co has kept a somewhat lower profile in old Blighty - but that could be about to change. That's because I hear that J.C. Flowers & Co has been participating in the strategic review of UK General, a Leeds-based insurer that describes itself as one of Britain's largest "general managing agents".

To be fair, it was actually hacks over at trade publication The Insurance Insider that revealed last year UK General had hired corporate finance types from Fenchurch Advisory Partners to work on a sale of the business.

However, little old Betaville has been told that Fenchurch is back working on the deal and J.C Flowers & Co is now one of the frontrunners in the sale process. One banker thought J.C. Flowers & Co was close to sealing a deal that would value UK General, whose chairman is Baron Carter of Coles, at around £150 million.

UK General generated about £4.3 million of operating profits on £23 million in 2015, according to accounts for 2015 filed at Companies House. So, I guess £150 million doesn't sound like a completely wild valuation...

J.C. Flowers & Co and UK General both declined to comment...

[Disclaimer - the information on Betaville does not consitute any form of investment recommendation and is not intended to be relied upon by readers in making, or refraining from, any investment decisions].

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