Mark Wilson, the former Aviva chief executive, is staging a return to the British insurance sector by spearheading a new venture to target a share of the £16bn motor insurance market.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Wilson has teamed up with Sun Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm, to launch Abacai Holdings, an insurance technology – insurtech – company.
The business will be created by merging Abacai with Complete Cover Group (CCG), an insurance distribution and underwriting business owned by Sun Capital.
Insiders said that Abacai intended to invest £50m in creating a new artificial intelligence platform, underlining the growing use of data and AI across an industry which has traditionally been slow to embrace cutting-edge technology.
Sources said the details of Abacai’s plans would be contained in an announcement which is scheduled to be made on Thursday morning.
It will represent a high-profile return to the UK insurance market for Mr Wilson, who ran Aviva between 2012 and 2018.
He now sits on the board of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and last year spearheaded an ultimately aborted takeover bid for Saga, the over-50s travel and insurance provider.
Prior to Aviva, he ran AIA Group, one of Asia’s largest financial services providers and which became a takeover target for London-listed Prudential a decade ago.
Sun’s interest in Abacai will be led by Edward Spencer-Churchill, a partner who was involved in the investment firm’s previous forays into the insurance sector, including Pearl Assurance – now the FTSE-100 life insurer Phoenix Group.
Mr Wilson and Mr Spencer-Churchill will serve as co-chairmen, while the former Aviva boss will also be Abacai’s chief executive.
Munich Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurance companies, is understood to have been signed up as a strategic partner in data analytics for risk-underwriting and pricing, and reinsurance.
The new company is believed to have lined up several executives from CCG for senior roles, as well as Jamie Hay, a former Goldman Sachs insurtech banker, and Colin Price, a former director at McKinsey, the management consultant.
Bankers said that Abacai was likely to play a “robust” role in ongoing sector consolidation, with a number of acquisition targets already said to be under consideration.
“The combination of underwriting and digital expertise, and his [Mr Wilson’s] pedigree make it a pretty compelling play,” said one insurance industry executive.
Abacai will initially target the non-prime and standard segments of the UK motor insurance market, which was worth £16bn based on 2019’s gross written premium figure.
Last autumn, a report by the City watchdog concluded that long-standing customers were overcharged an average of £85 annually for motor insurance.
After its push into car insurance, Abacai is likely to expand to other insurance disciplines and geographical markets.
Mr Wilson could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.