The Isle of Man life insurance sector has seen a lot of M&A activity in the last 12 months, with interest coming from a combination of private equity firms, strategic buyers and overseas insurance consolidators. We have also seen a number of private equity investments into corporate services firms, often in the form of secondary (or even tertiary) private equity sales. There has been a lot of interest in growth-stage technology businesses on the Isle of Man recently, and we receive a large number of regulatory mandates to advise clients on the regulatory implications of indirect changes of control of Isle of Man captive insurers.
Overall, an exceptionally busy run of M&A transactions has softened, partly as a result of the global macroeconomic uncertainty. That said, lucrative opportunities still exist for investors with strong balance sheets and the appetite to make investments during a period of uncertainty. We expect the continuing weakness of the pound to make mature local financial services businesses that have consistent cashflows particularly appealing, especially to US private equity investors.
Significant recent deals we have advised on have included:
• the $936 million acquisition by AIM-listed Kape Technologies Plc of ExpressVPN, a premium consumer VPN business;
• the £483 million sale by Quilter plc of its international life insurance business;
• the £467.9 million recommended cash offer by Starwood Capital Group for London Stock Exchange-listed Isle of Man company RDI REIT PLC;
• the $250 million acquisition by Gopher Investments of Finalto, the financial trading division of LSE listed Playtech Plc (the world’s largest supplier of online gaming and sports betting software);
• the investment by BGF (the United Kingdom’s most active growth capital investor) in Myzone, the Isle of Man-based global manufacturer of wearable fitness tracking technology, in a deal that valued the group at $102 million;
• the acquisition by international private equity firm Cinven of a majority interest in International Financial Group Limited, the owner of the RL360, Friends Provident International and Arden brands (remains subject to regulatory approval at the time of writing);
• the acquisition by Monument Re of LCLI International Life Assurance Company Limited and Charles Taylor Group’s other Isle of Man operations; and
• the acquisition by IPS-Integrated Project Services (a portfolio company of Alleghany Capital) of Isle of Man-incorporated Anchorbuoy Limited, the parent company of Linesight (a global consultancy firm).