Swett & Crawford, a US-based independent wholesale broker and London-based Cooper Gay, an independent wholesale, reinsurance and specialist retail insurance broker, have combined their businesses to create a new group Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford.

Swett & Crawford has said that the newly created group Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford which is effective immediately, will place approximately $3.5bn in premiums in the US, London and international insurance markets and employ over 1,500 staff based in more than 60 offices across four continents.

The combined group will be led by Toby Esser as group chief executive. Neal Abernathy will continue as president & chief executive of Swett & Crawford, and will also become a member of the new holding company’s executive committee. All of the group’s operations in North America will report to Mr Abernathy.

Cooper Gay’s offices outside North America and all Swett & Crawford business units will continue to trade as before. They will keep their existing branding and management teams, but will focus on implementing combined best practices and driving synergies across the group, Swett & Crawford said.

The employee shareholders will remain the largest single group of investors in Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford, with existing strategic partners MDS SGPS and HM Capital retaining significant stakes in the combined business.

Mr Esser said: “By bringing together the resources of Cooper Gay and Swett & Crawford under common ownership, we have not only created the world’s largest truly global independent wholesale and reinsurance broker, but have also created an exceptional team with the experience and skills to deliver market leading service to our clients.

Mr Abernathy said: “With the deal completed we now look forward to demonstrating the full potential of our enhanced international network, broader professional expertise and increased market access to both clients and the markets in which we operate.”