Zurich is to divest its 25% shareholding in the Openwork network within the next four years.
Under the agreement, the insurer will divest its shares in Openwork by March 2020, by transferring them to Openwork’s other main shareholder, Openwork Partnership LLP which represents the network of some 600 adviser firms and 3,000 advisers. This will mark the culmination of the strategy set out by Zurich when Openwork was created in 2005.
The two businesses said that through its ongoing delivery of profits, Openwork will be in a “robust” financial position as the network of advisers increases its ownership.
Openwork will continue to distribute Zurich’s product lines in the UK.
Mark Duckworth, CEO of Openwork, said: “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.”
David White, managing director for Retail at Zurich UK Life, added: “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.”