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Towergate poaches new chief executive David Ross from US insurance giant Arthur J Gallagher International

11 February 2015
by Chris Price

Towergate has swooped on one of its overseas rivals to appoint a new chief executive charged with stabilising the business after its financial overhaul.

David Ross, the former boss of Arthur J Gallagher International, will eventually become the new boss of the Maidstone-based insurance broker after a “transition period” working with another company.

Mr Ross, who has led the Illinois-based insurer since 2005, has been appointed chief executive of newly-formed portfolio company Sierra Investments Holdings, which will become the investment vehicle for Highbridge Principal Strategies – the group leading the bondholders who now own 80% of Towergate.

Towergate's headquarters in Maidstone

Towergate's headquarters in Maidstone

In the meantime, Towergate has appointed chief finance officer Scott Egan as interim chief executive.

He takes over from chairman Alastair Lyons, the former Serco chair, who has been in the role since Mark Hodges’ surprise resignation in October. He will revert back to non-executive chairman.

Mr Ross led Arthur J Gallagher International through a period of significant growth, from a predominantly London operation to a global player with revenues over £1 billion.

Staff numbers have increased from 200 to more than 6,500.

When he takes the top job at Towergate, he will be tasked with turning the firm around after it was forced to financially restructure debts of more than £1bn.

“We are delighted Highbridge has secured someone of David’s market standing and track-record to become Group CEO...” - Towergate chairman Alastair Lyons

Highbridge partner Scot French said: “I am thrilled David is joining the team.

“We have strategic plans to build a leading insurance intermediary and Towergate provides a formidable platform.

“We are excited by the prospect of working together with the current Towergate team.

“The deal [where bondholders took control of 80% of the firm] provides long-term stability and liquidity for the business.

“The expertise, vision and the financial backing are now present to make a significant impact on the business.”

Towergate chairman Mr Lyons said: “We are delighted Highbridge has secured someone of David’s market standing and track-record to become group CEO.”

Interim chief executive Mr Egan added: “I am looking forward to implementing the plans for which the agreement announced on Friday between our lenders provides a strong stable base to support the completion of the change programme and the further growth of the business.”

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