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Mapfre to buy its way to UK warranty growth

Mapfre, a Spanish group selling extended warranties, insurance and other motor industry products, reports a 50% increase in UK turnover this year, and plans similar growth in 2007.

Marta Santamaria, general manager of Mapfre Abraxas and Mapfre Assistance, the group’s British businesses, says: “We want structured growth from the existing business and expect further acquisitions of UK companies.”

Mapfre covers claims on more than 380,000 extended warranties in the UK and provides roadside assistance for 50,000 people.

Much of the planned new business is likely to come from providing warranties sold by franchised dealers and used car specialists, including car supermarkets.

Industry analysts believe Mapfre is well placed to do well because it contrasts strongly with the collapsed Warranty Holdings, the Ford subsidiary placed in administration in March 2004.

“Dealers have been wary since WH went down, and Mapfre has the right credentials,” says one analyst. “It has a strong relationship with most car manufacturers.”

Mapfre has been operating in the UK since 1999 and Mapfre Assistance offers warranty, gap and travel insurance. It worked closely with Abraxas, a privately-owned Bristol-based software and insurance company, and bought it in July 2005.

Abraxas provides web-based training to help dealers who need to comply with Financial Services Authority when selling insurance products.

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