Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Billy Craig and Maritime General to merge

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2020 | 6:55 PMNeville Graham - Business Reporter
William Craig, CEO of Billy Craig Insurance Brokers Limited.
William Craig, CEO of Billy Craig Insurance Brokers Limited.
Thomas Smith, managing director of Maritime General Insurance Brokers Limited.
Thomas Smith, managing director of Maritime General Insurance Brokers Limited.
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Pending regulatory approval, Billy Craig Insurance Brokers and Maritime General Insurance Brokers, MGI, will merge their operations to form BCMG Insurance Brokers Limited.

Billy Craig Insurance CEO, William Craig, says the merger is a non-cash transaction that will see both companies combining their operations and portfolios as a joint venture.

“We’ve been talking on and off over the years and we thought it was a great opportunity. We have a nice portfolio, they also have a nice portfolio, and there is an opportunity to grow the businesses together,” Craig said in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.

CEO of Maritime General Thomas Smith said the deal has been “too long in coming”, but was nonetheless opportune. Negotiations got under way in January 2019.

“We’d planned to finish this earlier but COVID-19 intervened. We’re still pressing on though,” Smith said.

The merged entity is expected to fall within the top five of the 25 insurance brokerages in Jamaica. None of the principals were forthcoming about the size of their respective portfolios. The companies presently operate from three locations, two for Billy Craig with 50 employees, and one for MGI with 22 members of staff.

Craig says there will be no staff cuts or branch closures.

“To start off, we won’t be changing that, but over time I’m sure we’ll be looking at consolidating the offices. What we would want to do is to structure it so that we have all of the operations people together, employee benefits and so on, so that they are working side by side from the two existing teams,” he said.

Billy Craig presently has about 1,000 clients on its books, while MGI, whose business is concentrated on high value, corporate-type clientèle, has just over 200.

Craig says both companies use similar technology platforms, Epic Assure and Broker One, which will allow for a seamless operational merger.

“We both have similar corporate cultures and business strategies. Both teams have known each other for a long time. We both want to grow and become bigger and even more successful,” he said.

“We’re looking at substantial growth over the next 12-18 months with this new entity,” added Smith, who said the 72-member team was left intact for that purpose.

“The teams are rearing to go and our clients can’t wait. We’ll need every single team member on both sides,” he said.

MGI is headed by Smith with co-owner Errol Zadie as chairman. Billy Craig is a family owned business originating in Montego Bay. It was founded by Craig’s father, for whom the brokerage is named.

The new BCMG Insurance Brokers will be operated by William Craig as executive chairman and Thomas Smith as CEO.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com