VWV corporate team act for insurance broker’s founders on sale to acquisitive national group

March 5, 2021

Bristol law firm VWV has advised the founding shareholders of a specialist personal and commercial insurance broker on its acquisition by a fast-growing national group.

Following the deal, Wiltshire-based Advance Insurance Agencies is now part of the Jensten Group. It is Jensten’s second acquisition this year and the latest step on its ambitious buy-and-build growth strategy focused on expanding its specialist insurance capability. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Advance, which employs 82 staff across its offices in Chippenham, Swindon, Westbury, and Trowbridge, handled £16m gross written premium (GWP) prior to the takeover.

It will now form a centre of excellence for specialist personal lines within the London-headquartered Jensten Group, enabling it to offer an expanded service to clients of its Coversure franchises and wholly owned broking operation.

The Advance brand will be retained in line with Jensten’s integration model. Business development manager Matt Jones will become managing director, taking over the day-to-day running of the business from founding shareholder Clive Woods, who will move into a consultancy role for a transitional period. Fellow founding shareholder and director Samantha Woods is retiring.

The VWV corporate team acted for sellers Samantha and Clive Woods, working alongside Chippenham and Devizes-based accountants and tax advisers Mander Duffill. 

The VWV team was led by corporate partner Nathan Guest, who has spent more than 20 years advising corporate clients on mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs and private equity and venture capital investments.

He was supported by Sonya May, senior paralegal in the corporate law team, and a team of specialist lawyers from across the firm, including commercial property partner Jessica Booz, commercial senior associate Jacob Scott, senior associate and data protection solicitor Vicki Bowles, senior associate and employment solicitor Mark Stevens and tax partner Emma Bradley.

Nathan, pictured, said: “I could not be more pleased for Clive and Sam, who have worked tirelessly over more than 20 years to build a fantastic business. 

“Selling your business is challenging on many levels and although they had no prior experience of a corporate transaction on this scale, they threw themselves into the process with a level of diligence that gave everyone confidence.

“They were an absolute delight to work with.  There were plenty of late evening virtual meetings, but these were as entertaining as they were instructive! We look forward to continuing to work with them both in the future.”

Jensten was formed in 2018 following an MBO of the Coversure Group, which was originally established in the UK in 1986. It currently controls around £245m GWP and has a publicly stated ambition to reach £500m within the next three to five years.

As well as its retail insurance division Coversure, the group also includes leading online insurance wholesalers Policyfast and specialist underwriting business City Underwriters Limited (CUL).

VWV employs around 470 people, including 88 partners and over 220 other lawyers, in its offices in Bristol, London, Watford and Birmingham.

Its corporate team has 10 partners and 17 other specialist corporate, finance and tax lawyers and an established reputation as a leading adviser to emerging companies, family owned and owner-managed SMEs, global corporates, universities and public sector organisations.


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