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Norwich Union acquires HPI Group Holdings

Norwich Union Insurance (NUI) has acquired the entire share capital of HPI from Phoenix Equity Partners for £118.5m in cash and £1.5m in loan notes.

HPI is a provider of vehicle status checks for used-car purchasers in the UK with around 60% market share. In 2003, there were 6.8m used-car transactions in the UK of which 60% were checked.

The acquisition will provide NUI with an access point to capture new customers at a key stage of their purchasing decision – buying a new car is the second biggest trigger point for people to change their insurer.

The deal will also help HPI to leverage its existing business plan as part of the UK’s largest general insurer. In particular, it will HPI develop its position in relation to private car sales where only 5% of the 2.9 million used-car sales per annum are checked.

This acquisition also supports NUI’s objective of extending its service offering and increasing its level of non-insurance income.

HPI’s sales grew by 36% to £22.5m in the two years to March 2004 and pre-tax trading profit for the calendar year 2004 is estimated to be £10m. The estimated fair value of HPI’s net assets is £6m.

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