Pollen Street and Bain Capital to fund UK insurance merger

Ardian takes ICQ Holding; A week in exits.

Insurance is the opening topic of the day, we we take a look at Pollen Street and Bain Capital backing a merger in the UK insurance market.

We then switch to renewable energy, as Ardian has taken complete ownership of ICQ Holding, an Italian renewable energy assets provider.

We’ll then take a look at some exits from this week, which include Bowmark Capital selling ASK4 to GI Partners, Cinven parting ways with Planasa and Investcorp exiting Georg Jensen.

As exits are a big topic today, I also want to revisit Irien Joseph’s deep dive on Main Capital’s exit from Assessio.


Pollen Street Capital and Bain Capital Special Situations are funding a merger between insurers Markerstudy and Atlanta Group that values the latter at £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion; €1.4 billion).

The combined business will transact over £3 billion in annual gross written premium and employ 7,300 people across the UK, according to a release.

Atlanta is the personal lines broking business of the Ardonagh Group, a London-headquartered insurance group. It distributes via brands including Swinton, Autonet and Carole Nash and has 2.6 million customers.

Ardonagh will receive a combination of cash and a “substantial” minority equity stake in the merged business, the release said.

Markerstudy has around 6 million customers across the motor, pet, home and commercial sectors. It is based in Sevenoaks in England.

Michael England, partner at Pollen Street, said that “Markerstudy has developed rapidly, growing strongly since we invested in 2021”.


Starting with a bit of energy, which I’m in a dire need of at least. Ardian has taken complete ownership of ICQ Holding, a Rome-headquartered renewable energy assets provider.

Ardian acquired a minority stake in ICQ in July 2022. Following the acquisition of the remaining stake from Italian Renewable Resources, Ardian has become the sole owner of the strategic renewable energy platform.

ICQ’s portfolio includes six wind farms, two hydroelectric projects and two biogas plants, and an additional 89MW pipeline of wind projects under development.

Ardian made the investment through its Clean Energy Evergreen Fund (ACEEF).

“Through ACEEF, Ardian’s mission is to take responsibility for supporting and developing sustainable projects that fight climate change by accelerating the energy transition,” said Federico Gotti Tedeschi, director of Ardian Infrastructure, in a statement. “This investment further consolidates our global platform of utility-scale assets originating its own pipeline of projects.”


Let’s take a look at some exits from this week. First up, we have Bowmark Capital agreeing to sell ASK4, an in-building internet connectivity provider to the multi-tenant real estate sector, to GI Partners.

ASK4 will be GI Partners’ first data infrastructure investment in Europe.

Based in Sheffield in England, ASK4 operates across 12 European countries and supports over 320,000 customers.

Since Bowmark’s secondary buyout of ASK4 in 2018, the company has more than doubled its revenue and profits, according to a press statement. ASK4 has also expanded into new verticals, including residential build-to-rent and senior living markets.

“ASK4’s core proposition is the delivery of fully managed Wi-Fi connectivity within multi-tenant buildings serving students, working professionals and people in retirement,” said Matt Barker, managing director and head of Europe for GI Data Infrastructure. “ASK4’s technical and service excellence is uniquely positioned to provide real estate investors and operators with market leading services that drive retention, re-bookings and improved net operating income.”

Next stop on our exit tour is in the field of agri-food. Cinven announced that it has agreed to sell Planasa, an agri-tech company, to strategic buyer EW Group. Label Investments is also exiting its stake in the company.

Headquartered in Valtierra in Spain, Planasa is an agri-food company that specialises in breeding of berry varieties, namely blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. The company has six R&D centres in Europe, Mexico and the US, and has invested over €25 million in R&D over the last five years.

Since acquiring Planasa in January 2018, Cinven has worked with Planasa to develop and roll out new berry varieties and invested in field digitalisation. In 2021, Planasa acquired Advanced Berry Breeding, a Dutch raspberry breeding group.

Finally, we have Investcorp agreeing to sell its majority stake in Georg Jensen, a Danish design brand, to Fiskars Group.

Based in Copenhagen, Georg Jensen is a design house founded in 1904 by a silversmith of the same name.

The transaction will be paid in cash and financed with debt. The enterprise value of €151.5 million represents EV/EBITDA (LTM) multiples of 9.5x on a stand-alone basis and 4.7x with cost synergies, net of integration costs, according to Fiskars.

In 2022, Georg Jensen’s net sales were €158.1 million, and EBIT was €14.9 million.

During the ownership period, Investcorp focused on product innovation, upgrading digital capabilities, expanding into new markets and adjacent categories, and realising operational efficiencies, according to a press statement.


Since we’re on the topic of exits, I wanted to highlight a story by my colleague Irien Joseph, who caught up with Main Capital partner Wessel Ploegmakers about the firm’s exit from Assessio.

Stockholm-based Assessio provides digital services for recruitment and development. Main, a software investor based in the Hague with more than €2.2 billion in assets under management, announced at the end of August that it will sell Assessio to Pollen Street Capital.

Main received a multiple that was many times its investment, Ploegmakers told Irien.

Around 50 percent of the company’s revenues were recurring and software-driven and 50 percent consultancy-driven when Main invested in 2019. Now, 85-90 percent are software-driven – meaning there were “limited effects” on the business from the wider macroeconomic outlook, said Ploegmakers.

“Market growth was around 15-20 percent and organic growth in recurring revenues was above 25 percent, which proves that you can create attractive exit routes in more uncertain environments,” said Ploegmakers.

I highly recommend reading the full story, which covers Main’s add-on acquisitions for Assessio and what kind of buyers were interested in the business. You can find Irien’s story here.