The founders of managing general agent (MGA) Newbridge Risk Partners, Chris Kirby and Henry Buchanan, have moved to Optio, after the group bought their specialist political violence and terrorism underwriting firm.

Optio, which comprises MGA Ascent Underwriting, Cove Programs and broker Bay Risk Services, acquired Newbridge for an undisclosed sum from Castel Underwriting Agencies last week.

Kirby and Buchanan both started in Optio’s office in London with immediate effect, with Kirby reporting to the group’s CUO Paul Western and CEO Kevin Hastings in his new role as head of political violence and terrorism. Buchanan meanwhile takes on the position of senior political violence and terrorism underwriter and reports to his Newbridge colleague.

Having launched on the Castel platform in 2015, Newbridge has capacity from both Lloyd’s syndicates and company markets and has built up a portfolio for industrial and commercial risks in regions like Mena, Sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Asia.

Kirby decided to set up the cell after a 20-year career working in crisis management focussing on political risk, war and terrorism, both from underwriting and broking perspectives. He had been leading the political violence team at IGI immediately prior to creating the company.

Buchanan meanwhile has over 10 years’ experience in insurance as both a broker and an underwriter. In his most recent role prior to launching Newbridge, he served as deputy underwriter on the political violence and terrorism underwriting team at Chaucer Syndicates.

Speaking to GTR about the move, Kirby says: “The Optio platform will enable Newbridge to utilise technology to increase efficiencies in service and provide real time management information.”

He adds: “An entrepreneurial culture that encourages product development and innovation will enable Newbridge to continue its geographic and product line expansion, complementing the existing Optio Group business where possible.”

Commenting on its own plans for Newbridge, Optio’s CEO Kevin Hastings says: “Huge opportunity exists in distributing Newbridge’s products to our core markets, particularly the US via Optio’s well-established channels, and we look forward to working with them to realise its full potential.”

The buyout follows on from Optio’s launch of its political risk proposition for foreign direct investors in November, headed up by veteran underwriter Nick Hedley.

Hedley previously told GTR that he had devised the programme, in part, because he felt that while large volumes of foreign direct investment were being channelled into Africa, Asia and Mena from Europe, the London market had been missing out in terms of insurance risk.

Kirby says Newbridge will collaborate and work with Hedley’s unit to develop further political risk-related products and services. He comments: “Global instability is highly likely to give rise to further opportunities to develop products outside of what is currently on offer and being part of Optio gives us the best opportunity to do that.”