C. Richard Peterson, executive vice president of Sedgwick James Inc., confirmed Thursday that he is leaving Sedgwick after 15 years to head a competitor owned by Minet Group PLC.
Mr. Peterson will sign on as chairman of New York-based Minet North America on Monday, where he will assume control of Minet's retail operations in the United States and Canada. He said he hopes one day to add Mexico to that list.He will also take charge of the wholesale, excess & surplus lines brokerage unit Swett & Crawford, a Minet subsidiary in Los Angeles.
One of his most important roles will be directing Minet's North American acquisition strategy.
London-based Minet Group is a division of the St. Paul Cos. and a well- known Lloyd's of London broker, but it's only been active in the United States for the last several years, said Nancy Oblinger, Minet spokewoman.
One Sedgwick official said St. Paul has plans to "initiate a strategy of acquisitions, specifically on the insurance brokerage side." The only question is "how big is the war chest."
Mr. Peterson said he is interested not in revenue building, but in capitalizing on one of Minet's greatest strengths - its industry programs catering to groups such as lawyers, accountants and financial institutions. The broker also has energy and construction groups, and is also courting ''high-tech" business, Mr. Peterson observed.
"I think if a real good fit came along" - particularly a broker with a similar marketing approach - "Minet would be very interested," Mr. Peterson said.
Harry Fong, an analyst for Conning & Co. of Hartford, Conn., observed that Minet has begun to bounce back since posting a pretax operating loss of $433 million in 1992 (including a $365 million write-down of good will), so "it may be willing to grow its business again." Minet "may even make some money in 1994," Mr. Fong said.
Mr. Peterson served as president of the National Association of Insurance Brokers from 1989-1990, and helped helped the NAIB develop its position advocating a role for the federal government in insurance solvency regulation.
He said leaving his many old friends at Sedgwick is a "bittersweet experience," although he is looking forward to working with Peter S. Christie, chairman of Minet Group.