Envest takes majority stake in Sydney marine broker

Privately held insurance investor Envest has expanded into the marine business, acquiring a majority stake in North Sydney-based Australian Risk Applications (ARA).

ARA is a specialist marine insurance broker and underwriting agent that focuses on importers, exporters, fresh produce exporters, traders, freight forwarders, customs brokers, couriers, removalists, ship repairers, boat owners and builders.

Envest MD Greg Mullins says ARA marks another strategic investment for its broking arm Aviso Group.

“The M&A space for brokers is incredibly competitive now and we are pleased to be able to attract a deal of this nature,” Mr Mullins said. “We are also delighted in the quality of the people we are investing in.

“ARA will be the 14th business to join the Group which now combines 26 offices nationally, more than 300 employees, 20 principals and $460 million in gross written premium.”

Aviso Group CEO Craig Robson says ARA is the broking network’s first marine specialist and the investment “relates to our overall strategy of trying to focus on niche businesses, both on the broker side of things and also agencies.”

“We’re thrilled to have ARA join Aviso Group and feel privileged the original founders of the business, Michael Murrell and Tim Williams, have entrusted us with the successful business they have built, as we work together and continue to grow it into the future,” Mr Robson said.

He says Mr Murrell and Mr Williams will continue to lead ARA.

Mr Murrell, currently ARA MD, says the business was attracted to the Aviso Group model and Envest independence as a private investor in a consolidating market.

“We have professional and personal relationships within the Group and were very comfortable with the direction and freedom offered,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to growing together and leveraging the opportunities afforded by the size and strength of the Group.”

Following the ARA investment, Envest now has interests in 15 agencies, 10 brokers and two insurance related companies.

In the past 12 months, Envest has increased its ownership of existing companies and investment portfolio size by more than 80%.

Aviso Group is now made up of 10 broking members following the ARA investment. The other nine members are Aviso WA Insurance Brokers (WA), Fitzpatrick & Co Insurance Brokers (Victoria), Aviso Broking (Queensland/NSW), Aviso Select (National), Acumen Insurance Brokers (NSW), Aviso TAS Insurance Brokers (Tasmania), Grange Insurance Solutions, North Queensland Insurance Brokers (Queensland) and Aviso Integral Insurance Services (Victoria).