Finance & Insurance
€730m
France FR

Scope of intervention

Sycomore Corporate Finance acted as financial advisor to Gras Savoye and its management

Date of closing

December 2015
Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE: WSH), the global risk advisory, re/insurance broking, and human capital and benefits firm, has acquired Gras Savoye, the leading French insurance broker from Astorg.

On April 22, 2015, Willis Group announced a firm offer to acquire the remaining 70% of Gras Savoye that it did not own.

Willis and Gras Savoye will work together to bring the best of their organisations to clients, enabling them to innovate and implement the right solutions to manage risk and people.

The union creates a powerful international network by combining Willis’s global footprint with Gras Savoye’s particularly strong presence in France, Central and Eastern Europe, and across Africa. Gras Savoye’s expertise in high-growth markets and industry sectors complements Willis’s strengths, creating significant value for clients and a compelling offer for carriers.

Gras Savoye will keep its name and brand. The union with Willis is built on a successful relationship of 40 years that will help ensure a smooth integration.

In 1997, Willis acquired a 33% stake in Gras Savoye, which it gradually increased to 49%. In November 2009, the capital of Gras Savoye was reorganised wherein Willis, family shareholders of Gras Savoye and Astorg held 31.8% stake each in Gras Savoye and the rest 4.5 % stake was held by a group of Gras Savoye’s managers and employees.

Rationale

  • The combined entity will have a global geographical footprint with market presence in 131 countries, of which 84 would be wholly-owned operations
  • Extend Willis’ presence in France where Gras Savoye is the largest insurance broker and strengthens its position in mid-market sector, which is expected to have high growth opportunities
  • Access to high-growth markets through a comprehensive network across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and over 30 countries in Africa

Gras Savoye at a glance

Founded in 1907, Gras Savoye has three main activities: insurance brokerage, reinsurance and risk management. The company has a powerful regional network (around 30 offices) and also has access to 140 countries through Willis Towers Watson network. Gras Savoye also makes this expertise available to individuals for all their everyday insurance requirements (car, home, etc.). Gras Savoye, as an insurer of thousands of companies of all sizes, is involved in national and international projects in many different business sectors: personal insurance, property insurance, civil liability, construction, automotive and many other specialist areas. Every day, Gras Savoye insures 500,000 vehicles and provides healthcare protection for more than 2.2 million people worldwide.
Gras Savoye reported revenues of €370m and EBITDA of €65m for the year ended 31 December 2014 with a workforce of 3,900 employees in almost 50 countries.

Willis Group at a glance

Founded in 1828, Willis Group (NYSE: WSH), is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker. Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000 employees in over 400 offices across 120 countries. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer.

Astorg at a glance

Astorg is an independent private equity group with over €4bn of assets under management.
Since its inception in 1998, Astorg has conducted 40 transactions, generating an annualised rate of return of 27.5%, with a minimal loss rate of less than 1.3% of all capital invested.
Its offices are located in London, Paris and Luxembourg. Astorg acquires European companies with a global presence and sales.