Zurich will sell its 25 per cent stake in advice network Openwork in the next four years.
In July last year, Mortgage Strategy’s sister title, Money Marketing, revealed Zurich had appointed investment banking advisory firm Evercore to explore exit opportunities as senior management look to rid the company of any liability risk associated with the business.
Openwork is currently 67.5 per cent owned by member firms and 7.5 per cent by an Openwork employees trust, with the remainder held by Zurich.
In a statement issued today, Openwork confirms Zurich will divest its shareholding to member firms between now and 2020. The network represents around 600 firms and 3,000 advisers.
Openwork chief executive Mark Duckworth says: “This agreement marks a major point in Openwork’s development. Advisers can see a clear path, collectively, to owning the network that provides the vital infrastructure behind their own businesses, a benefit which will be available in due course both to existing and new firms that join us.
“The agreement also demonstrates that Openwork has a clear ability to grow and create value, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Zurich which has long been an integral part of our proposition.”
Zurich UK Life managing director for retail David White adds: “Today’s announcement is the culmination of the strategy set out when Openwork was created in 2005 and reflects the huge strides Openwork has made in recent years to become and remain profitable.
“The bonds between the two businesses remain very strong and, while Zurich will no longer be a shareholder as a result of this agreement, we will continue to provide our market-leading platform and protection propositions to Openwork’s advisers and their clients.”