Towergate on the verge of N&P deal

A fast-growing insurance business set up by Norfolk entrepreneur Peter Cullum is on the verge of buying Norwich & Peterborough building society's broking arm.

Kent-based Towergate Insurance, which has an office at Great Yarmouth, has signed an agreement to buy Norwich & Peterborough Insurance Brokers (NPIB), which recently merged with the Yorkshire Building Society.

Yorkshire Building Society confirmed last night that the sale process had gone well and a 'heads of agreement' had been signed. Due diligence will be carried out over the coming weeks.

It is understood there were other local brokers interested in the business and a possible management buy out which never came to fruition.

The sale plans come after Norwich & Peterborough Building Society (N&P) merged with Yorkshire Building Society last November.

Yorkshire Building Society said it was too early to say what would happen to NPIB's 68 staff in the region.

N&P retained its name and identity, and the building society said jobs would be guaranteed for two years as a condition of the merger.

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Mr Cullum, who famously launched a �20m bid to become majority shareholder at Norwich City Football Club in 2008, worked for Hiscox as group marketing director until he left to create Towergate.

Towergate Insurance has seen aggressive expansion in the last 15 years and now turns over more than �2bn of gross written premiums across its companies.

Its most recent acquisition was the non-life insurance business of general insurance brokers Dean and Milward. The N&P acquisition would be the 16th made by the company this year.

In a statement Yorkshire Building Society said: 'The Yorkshire acquired NPIB as part of its merger with Norwich & Peterborough Building Society on 1 November 2011.

'In February 2012, the Yorkshire announced that following a strategic review, NPIB was to be offered for sale.

'The Yorkshire has reassured customers that their current insurance cover will be unaffected and any customers whose insurance falls due for renewal will be contacted in the usual way. NPIB customers will continue to receive the same high standard of customer service as usual.'