Merging Discussions

Two long-established international marine insurance business based in the North East of England are discussing a possible merger.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s North of England P&I Association (North), the world’s second largest mutual liability insurer for shipowners, and Durham’s Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance (SMMI) Company Limited, one of the world’s leading insurers of fishing vessels and the aquaculture industry, have both been trading since the nineteenth century.

Both insurance ‘clubs’ now have offices throughout the world, generate a combined premium income of over £350 million and employ just over 400 people, more than two-thirds of which are based in the North East.

North’s joint managing director Alan Wilson said: “As a result of the business similarities between North and SMMI and their complementary global activities, we have now agreed in principle to investigate the practicalities of a merger.

“It will result in one of the largest global marine insurance providers, which we believe will provide considerable financial stability and significantly enhance our competitive position.“

SMMI’s chief executive Geoff Parkinson said: “SMMI and North are two of the longest established and most successful marine insurance businesses in north-east England and have long worked together, culminating in a strategic alliance in January 2012.

“A combined group will be a major force in the global marine insurance markets by virtue of our diversification and capacity.“

North’s joint managing director Paul Jennings added: “This is a very exciting possibility for both companies, combining North’s international portfolio of high quality, larger ships with SMMI’s wide spread of smaller vessel and aquaculture risks.

“Together we can offer our members a more diverse product range and develop new sources of business income to provide greater security and opportunities for all staff and suppliers.

The merger discussions are subject to satisfactory due diligence from both parties, the agreement of relevant legal documentation as well as regulatory approvals and membership approval. Further announcements will be made in October 2013.