One of the UK’s largest independent insurance broking empires, Towergate has been spoken of as a potential multi-billion flotation prospect since 2005 or so. The real question everyone wants answered is, ‘aren’t you upset that you didn’t sell/float the business at the top of the market?’ rather than what is now being touted as an LSE listing in 2012.
At one point in 2007 they were being quoted in the FT saying “we wouldn’t get into conversations on any offer below £3bn”.
The firm’s chairman Peter Cullum says ‘No’, in today’s monster Insurance Times interview, followed by his best diplomatic answer in response to questioning about a failed £800m offer for 25% of its shares to private equity firm Candover in 2008, saying ‘money is one thing – it’s important, it would be stupid to say otherwise – but you have to have the right partner and for us it just didn’t feel right’.”
Quite rightly, IT’s Ellen Bennett follows this admission with the statement: “it’s hard to believe there are no regrets.”
This interview covers an awful lot of ground and has the conversational air of one hour spent with the untouchable executive, who no matter how much his empire is worth (We have no idea now and that’s the detail I would like to know), will cast his wealth philanthropically all around. Indeed, the interview covers Cullum’s ‘don’t like to talk about it’ charity work and a burgeoning friendship with Richard Branson so there’s some personality thrown in too, which the insurance industry trade press often lacks. Is Ellen being hooked in by the fluffy stuff? This extract suggests maybe…
“There’s also a bit of Bill Gates in Cullum, it seems. “My children get hyper-tense when I say this,” he smiles, “but I want to give most of my money away in my lifetime. It’s selfish in some respects, but I want to see the difference I can make.”