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Change likely in Turkey as Vitmar four move to Omni / Tradewinds, January 2017

Shipowner insurance accounts are expected to be on the move as consolidation hits the Turkish market

The insurance business of some prominent Turkish shipowners is likely to be on the move following a deal that sees the Vitmar team joining the Omni broking group.

The deal involves just four Vitmar brokers joining Istanbul-based Omni but amounts to a significant consolidation in Turkey’s close-knit marine-insurance broking market.

Vitmar numbers containership operator Turkon Line and capesize bulker owner Eregli Denizcilik among its clients, so these accounts are set to move to Omni.

The team heading to Omni is led by Bahri Mete and Tansel Tokgoz, founders and co-owners of Vitmar, which will now be wound down.

Omni is already the biggest of the Turkish marine-insurance brokers and has a number of overseas operations.

The GTG, Kuzey and Vitmar broking companies are smaller competitors to Omni but domestically focused. International brokers such as Marsh, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Cambiaso Risso and PL Ferrari are also active in Turkey.

Omni chairman Aret Tasciyan said the Vitmar deal was a consolidation move, pointing to the Turkish marine-insurance market being on a similar path to larger competitors in London and other major centres, where mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have become a part of daily life.

Vitmar started in 2011 as a spin-off from the Vitsan Lloyd’s agency and protection and correspondents business.

Mete and Tokgoz are both former colleagues of Tasciyan, with the trio working together at Vitsan in the 1980s.

The Vitmar founders approached Omni some months ago to see if it was possible to join forces.

“It is becoming difficult for small brokers to survive, premiums are going down, freight rates are going down, everything is going down,” Tasciyan said.

Tasciyan adds that joining forces makes sense as Omni has strong relationships with hull underwriters in London and elsewhere as well as with the protection-and-indemnity (P&I) clubs.

“Getting clients is not the only challenge; you have to be able to place business on competitive terms,” Tasciyan said.

“For this reason, you need to establish close relationships with underwriters. That was the main reason they wanted to join us.”

Vitmar previously had a wholesaling relationship with the Edge broking group but this will now end.

The Vitmar four will be moving in with Omni’s existing team at its new headquarters within a matter of days.