25/02/2009

Insurance Times detects the tentative unfurling of fresh green shoots in the launch of the curiously named Alpine Risk Services LLP which plans to invest in spunky go-getting insurance firms looking to grow organically, through acquisition or via buy-ins, buy-outs, and, doubtless, buy-shake-it-all-abouts with the backing of venture capital firm Alcuin Partners.

“The insurance sector has seen its fair share of third-party investment in recent times,” Insurance Times reveals, “but could a new wave of cash-rich backers be about to pounce on the next breed of insurance industry entrepreneurs?”

At the helm of supposed prospective pouncer Alpine is Francis de Zulueta, 50, who recently left a £160,000 a year job as development director with venture capital firm B. P. Marsh & Partners, where he had been since 2002 following previous roles with Nelson Hurst & Marsh, Wills, Aon, Minet and Marsh & McLennan.

Zulueta told Insurance Times “For investors [the insurance sector] has a renewable income attached to it. That is quite appealing to capital backers. The insurance industry has not suffered anything like the banking sector. It is one of the few places any where you can set up for a relatively small amount of money. That makes it a particularly good partner for specialist venture capital.”

The Alpine website features an attractive photograph of snow covered peaks echoing the rise-fall-rise-fall-rise and then fall again trajectory traced by the firm’s logo.

The accompanying banner proclaims that Alpine offers “Real backing for insurance entrepreneurs in the insurance broking and underwriting sector.” The fact that “insurance broking” is in bigger letters than the rest suggests its main focus will be on the broking sector, of which Mr de Zulueta has most experience.

The firm says it “will comit between £250,000-£1.5m initially although larger deals can be considered up to £10m. Follow on funding will be considered for growth and bolt on acquisitions.”

Alpine is based in an exclusive collection of serviced office suites in Victoria, offering exceptional style and space, ideally located in the most fashionable part of town with Kings Road and Sloane Square on the doorstep.


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