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Insider in Full: Ardonagh Specialty to merge it's brands into Price Forbes and Bishopsgate

Ardonagh Specialty is set to reorganise several of its London market broking entities into three pillars and dispense with multiple brand names in favour of Price Forbes and Bishopsgate, this publication can reveal...

In an exclusive interview with Insurance Insider, Ardonagh Specialty CEO Antony Erotocritou explained how the segment is promoting key executives ahead of a major brand reorganisation in order to provide clarity and cohesion for clients and carriers.

As part of the restructure, Ardonagh Specialty will drop the brands Compass, Ed, Besso and Piiq.

The reorganisation will not affect the Ardonagh Specialty capital solutions unit led by Steve Hearn, which includes Inver Re, nor the international specialty teams led by Greg Ferguson, which come under a third pillar, specialty international.

Within the affected London market business, the platforms will be split into programmes specialists under Bishopsgate, with non-programmes specialty broking business and staff reallocated into Price Forbes. This includes property, casualty, construction, energy, aviation, marine and fine art, jewellery and specie.

Ardonagh will make John Thompson CEO of the Price Forbes specialty broking segment, with Richard Peers as chair. This publication revealed in March last year that former AJ Gallagher head of London market Thompson was to join Ardonagh Specialty in a senior role.

Erotocritou noted that Thompson had so far been running the unit’s aviation, energy and construction business, adding that the step-up is a “great promotion” for the executive that will provide “clarity and cohesion”.

New chair Peers was previously CEO of Price Forbes. Erotocritou said Peers will support Thompson “through the [leadership] transition and beyond”, working closely with Ardonagh Specialty chair James Masterson.

The group will also move all specialty programmes business under the Bishopsgate brand. This includes professional, financial and cyber business, risk solutions, international programmes, UK & Ireland P&C and US property.

The specialty programmes unit will have Graham Kilby as CEO and Russ Nichols as chairman. Kilby was CEO of Bishopsgate, while Nichols was previously a co-CEO of Besso.

Erotocritou confirmed that the restructure would not result in any reduction in headcount, adding that it would in fact “drive a simplified structure that will aid our growth”.

He added that clients, staff and trading partners had been extensively consulted on the reorganisation and that Ardonagh had engaged an independent consultant in redesigning its structure.

Erotocritou said: “It’s fantastic to be able to promote the experience and talent we have within our senior executive team and provide clarity and cohesion for our people and clients.”

Ardonagh Specialty: The timeline

When Ardonagh bought Corant Global for $500mn in a deal that closed in November 2021, it created a London market broking unit with pro forma revenues of as much as $450mn – and one that contained six separate broking businesses with overlapping offerings.

That transaction brought Ardonagh brands Bishopsgate, Price Forbes and Compass together with Ed, Besso and Piiq. This prompted speculation as to how the parent company would organise the various brands and personalities to best capitalise on its newfound scale.

In June 2021, Ardonagh announced plans to organise the specialty business into three pillars: specialty broking, reinsurance and capital solutions, and MGAs.

At that time, former Corant president Andy Wallin was made CEO of specialty broking, with Ardonagh Specialty CEO James Masterton as chairman. Former Corant CEO Steve Hearn took the helm of the reinsurance and capital solutions business.

Wallin has since become group head of M&A.

Nine months later, Ardonagh announced that former Piiq CEO Phil Smaje would become head of broking across the specialty unit, as the former Corant aviation broker was brought together with Ed and Price Forbes space and aviation broking teams.

Besso co-CEOs Rob Dowman and Russ Nichols were also given expanded roles at that point. Dowman took responsibility for both Besso and Bishopsgate, while Nichols continued to lead Besso.

This publication revealed that Dowman, who is understood to have controlled a large casualty book, left the business in June last year.

Other recent departures from within Ardonagh Specialty include James Baird and Paul Richards, now co-CEOs of Consilium. The pair were, respectively, director and managing director of professional and executive risk at Ed.

Several staff members left Piiq last year, including Mark Costin, Oyin Heath, Daniel Gunning and Kerrigan Read.

Talent flow has not all been in one direction, however, with the specialty group making significant hires in the past 12 months.

In March last year this publication revealed the group had hired several executives including Thompson, as well as Mark Watson and Paul Lewis from AJ Gallagher’s construction unit.

The business also hired former OneGlobal deputy chairman David Lawrence and then bought a Canadian property and liability book with revenues of around £6mn to place within Price Forbes.

Other key hires include former Lockton financial institutions partner Calvin Barnes to Bishopsgate.

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