Calm down! Wood buys Lloyds out of eSure
The eSure founder Peter Wood yesterday promised no let-up when it comes to television's most annoying ads as he celebrated the buyout of Lloyds Banking Group from the business.
Mr Wood, along with management and other investors, will pay "slightly more than" the £185m that the bank's 70 per cent stake is valued at on its book to take full control of eSure. Funding for the deal was supplied by Tosca Penta Investments, a new private equity vehicle managed by Penta Capital.
Mr Wood, who also set up Direct Line, founded the business in 2001 with the help of HBOS. It specialises in providing insurance to lower-risk customers, but has branched out with the launch of the "Sheila's Wheels" brand targeted at women drivers.
The HBOS stake was inherited by Lloyds after the bank rescued its rival in a shotgun wedding at the height of the financial crisis. The relationship between Mr Wood and his new majority owner was somewhat less harmonious than that with HBOS.
ESure, which employs 1,500 people, has established itself in the public's consciousness with a series of advertisements featuring the film maker Michael Winner – catchphrase "calm down dear". Mr Wood said there would be no let-up now he has full control of the business.
"When Lloyds took over either they were going to buy me out or I was going to buy them out," said Mr Wood. "It's something we have been talking about for some time. I'm going to carry on running a successful business, not growing too much, being efficient."
Among Mr Wood's plans is a new travel insurance product aimed at the over-fifties who often find it difficult to get cover. It is likely to be packaged with eSure car and/or home insurance.
"Of course, we'll have Mr Winner's help for that. The ads have got us on people's radars. They've got us on people's shopping lists. We're not selling Louis Vuitton," said Mr Wood. The eSure brand will also be used to sponsor Mr Winner's new television show Michael Winner's Dining Stars.
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