The Birmingham office of Alexander Forbes is fighting to become the biggest corporate insurance brokerage in the city following completion of a takeover by a US giant.
The Forbes business, based at Bank House in Cherry Street, will change its name to Lockton on Monday following the signing off of the #90 million deal on Thursday.
Lockton, the largest privately-owned broker in the US, has acquired the international insurance and risk management arm of South African-owned Forbes.
The deal has created the world's largest non-listed brokerage with annual sales of more than $600 million (#316 million) and offices in 43 countries.
Birmingham-based Mike Halldearn, who runs the group's Midland offices, said the aim is to build a $10 million (#5.3 million) a year business and overtake bigger rivals such as Marsh.
The office, which is expected to grow from the current 36 staff to 46 in the next 12 months, will concentrate on offering insurance to companies with global risks.
It will also be building on the work of a new operation called Pecap which provides the private equity market with due diligence on the insurance implications of mergers and acquisitions.
That operation, headed locally by Nick Hodgson, meshes with work that Forbes has been doing with Lockton over the past few years and will grow further as the European M&A sector overtakes that in the US, as looks likely.
Mr Halldearn, who has been telling companies in Birmingham and the West Midlands to pay more attention to their risk cover, says the work will become increasingly important to the region as deals get bigger and more international in nature.
"Many businesses are simply not properly covered and it is going to be increasingly important to ensure that this element of a deal is considered at the due diligence stage," he said yesterday.
Founded by the Jack Lockton in Kansas City in 1966, Lockton Companies has grown from a home-base into one of the largest insurance brokerages in the US.
It serves a wide range of industries, including construction, transport, foodservice, telecommunications, energy, healthcare and professional employer organisations.
Lockton owns 51 per cent of the business with US private equity group Stone Point Capital holding a major stake. Chairman David Lockton said of the merger with Forbes: "This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand our footprint across the globe.
"We think this will be a good investment for Lockton but it was a strategic need that drove the acquisition."
According to Forbes' deputy chairman Mike Hammond, the firm had previously had a number of approaches from private equity firms, all of whom were focused on their exit strategy.
"This is a long term play," said Mr Hammond, who becomes chairman of the new company, called Lockton International Holdings.
Mr Halldern said he hoped to build the Birmingham office up to the point where staff write a minimum of #100,000-worth of business a year. "Our aim to replicate the success that our new owner has had in the US in Birmingham and across the UK.
"Lockton has a client retention rate of 98 per cent and an employee retention rate of 95 per cent so this move can only be good news," he added.