Howden’s DUAL Acquires Align Financial; Sweeney, Johnson to Lead; O’Connor Exits

October 12, 2021

London-based DUAL, the underwriting arm of Howden Group Holdings, reports it has completed the acquisition of Align Financial Holdings that was announced in August.

San Diego-based Align is a specialist general agency and underwriting management group, underwriting more than $680 million of gross written premium on an annualized basis through its commercial casualty, commercial property catastrophe, personal property, and surety businesses. Align operates four agency businesses: Align General Insurance Agency, Catalytic Risk Managers & Insurance Agency, Deposit Choice, and NALICO General Agency.

The combined U.S. operations have more than 400 people underwriting more than $1 billion GWP from eight locations and more than 7,000 broker partners. Internationally, DUAL Group underwrites more than $2 billion gross written premium across 18 countries on behalf of more than 80 capacity providers.

Kieran Sweeney, CEO of Align, will become executive chairman of DUAL Group and join the group executive committee of Howden Group. John Johnson, currently president of Align, will become CEO, DUAL North America.

Jim O’Connor, CEO of DUAL’s U.S. operations, will leave the company to pursue other opportunities after steering the business through the pandemic. David Ibeson, non-executive chairman of DUAL Group, will become a non-executive director.

“We are now one of the largest general agencies in the U.S. and we have an unparalleled opportunity to grow and thrive,” commented Sweeney,

Howden has been on an acquisition spree, adding Oslo-based retail broker Aneco Forsikringsmegling AS and Belgian insurance broker, Sarton & AssociƩs this week, as well as CHB Insurance Brokers of Estonia earlier this month.