Simply Business bought by Travelers in $490m deal to accelerate US expansion

 
Oliver Gill
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Jason Stockwood was behind the success of several internet firms including Lastminute.com and Match.com

Simply Business has today been swallowed up by US insurance giant Travelers in a $490m (£402m) deal that will deliver a bumper payout to every one of the UK broker's 400 employees.

The firm, which boasts 425,000 micro-business customers across 1,000 business classes in Britain, was bought by private equity fund Aquiline last year as part of a plans to break into the US market.

As one of Aquiline's key investors, Travelers saw the potential for expanding Simply Business and has now decided to take direct ownership.

Read more: Simply Business' Jason Stockwood talks to City A.M.

Speaking to City A.M. Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood said the firm would operate as a stand alone entity in the UK and be able to leverage from Travelers' network in the US that saw it generate $28bn of revenue in 2016.

And because the firm's employees all own shares in Simply Business, they will all stand to benefit from the sale to Travelers, Stockwood said, adding payouts will be a "decent proportion" of annual salaries.

"People are delighted. It's a surprise but they trust us as a management team," he said.

Every single person in my business benefits from this transaction as well. That's probably the best motivation for me.

US market

Stockwood added: "This is about enhancing the long-term opportunity of the business... Travelers want us to accelerate into the US market.

Read more: Axa takes multi-million euro loss from Bluefin sale to Marsh

"Having someone with such a track record and experience in its home market, just enhances our probability of success in the US. Consequently we want to roll the business out to other markets internationally as well."

Stockwood is a veteran of several other firms which have leveraged technology, including Lastminute.com and Match.com. Simply Business has rapidly expanded in recent years having launched in 2005. It is the largest online business insurance broker and wrote £93m of premiums in its last financial year.

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