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Bridges Ventures and Magenta Partners launch Halo Insurance Services - Press Release... Wednesday 3rd March 2010

Bridges Ventures and Magenta Partners today announce that they have co-invested to launch Halo Insurance Services Ltd, providing innovative niche insurance products for the wholesale and retail markets. Halo also announces that Alistair Tillen, former co-founder of SimplySwitch, joins its Board.

Halo benefits the consumer by providing an alternative to insurance sold at major car rental desks. It will be sold on-line under the retail brand of 'iCarhireinsurance.com' and through brokers as ‘Halo Insurance’. iCarhireinsurance.com allows the consumer to buy excess insurance on-line before they travel rather than at the desk when they pick up their rental car with prices starting from just £2.99 for daily policies and £39.99 for annual cover.

Most car rental companies charge as much as £9.99* a day for their excess insurance, so with iCarhireinsurance.com, customers can save as much as £100 on a two week rental. iCarhireinsurance.com aims to help millions of drivers to save money and policies can be used with car rental agreements worldwide. Halo Insurance Services Ltd was founded by Ernesto Suarez, a leading insurance professional with over 10 years’ experience in the industry

Bridges Ventures is an investment company whose commercial expertise is used to deliver both financial returns, and social and environmental benefits. It is backed by Apax Partners, Doughty Hanson and 3i. Magenta Partners invests capital in growth businesses. Its principal founder and investor is the Tom Singh Family Trusts - Tom Singh is one of the UK’s leading retail entrepreneurs.

Halo’s products are designed to champion the consumer, offering value and savings. The investors brought Alistair Tillen to the board, who brings with him a track record of success in running on-line businesses that are consumer champions. Alistair was a founding director of SimplySwitch, a cost comparison business that Bridges Ventures backed from the start-up stage and successfully exited in 2006. Alistair is now working with Bridges Ventures to assess new investment opportunities and act as a board member, helping portfolio companies grow.

Ernesto Suarez, CEO, Halo Insurance Services Ltd, commented: “Many people find car hire insurance confusing. They end up spending a fortune at car rental desks, or find themselves with a huge excess bill at the end of the holiday after a small chip to their windscreen. In fact, with many policies not covering the most vulnerable parts of the car, you could easily get hit with both! But it needn’t be that way. Halo Insurance protects hire car drivers, and brokers and partners can offer Halo policies to their customers, safe in the knowledge that they will not be able to get a better deal elsewhere.”

Alistair Tillen, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Bridges Ventures, commented: “At Bridges Ventures we have now invested in several successful businesses that champion the consumer. We are extremely pleased to be backing Ernesto and his team and believe that Halo Insurance is filling a much-needed gap for customers looking for cost-effective car insurance. I look forward to working closely with the management team to develop the business as a major player in the car insurance market.”

Tom Matthews, Partner, Magenta Partners, commented: “We are very excited about our investment into Halo Insurance Services. The business is centred upon a consumer champion product which delivers substantial savings and improved cover for both the everyday and the corporate hire car user. Online delivery ensures it is easy for the customer to research and buy the insurance as well as yielding paperless policy notes. Over time, we will look to add further products which deliver further savings and benefits to our customers.”

* Prices compared with two weeks cover from a car rental desk average price £9.99 a day. Prices correct at July 2009.

Bridges Ventures - Bridges Ventures is an investment company established in 2002 as a fund manager with a social mission whose commercial expertise is used to achieve social or environmental aims as well as attractive returns for investors. Four funds have been raised to date: Venture Funds I & II, the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund and the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund.

Venture Fund I totaled £40m while Venture Fund II totaled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup, individuals including Tom Singh of 3i, Dr Mike Lynch of Autonomy Corporation, Harvey McGrath of Man Group and Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex, as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College.

The Venture Funds invest in businesses based in regeneration areas and in sustainable business sectors such as the environment, education and healthcare. Bridges Ventures typically invests up to £10m at a time in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, development capital and management buy-outs. So far, £52m has been invested in 30 companies, many of whose employees have come out of long-term unemployment. To date there have been five successful exits: Harlands in Hull, SimplySwitch in South London, HS Atec in Yorkshire, EB2 in South London and IDL in Bournemouth.

Bridges Ventures’ key backers include Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners, 3i and Doughty Hanson. In August 2009 the Bridges Ventures Charitable Trust launched the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, a quasi-equity fund which provides an innovative financing solution that is tailored to the needs of ambitious social enterprises. The fund has grown in recent months to £8.5m.

Bridges Ventures recently launched the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, which will invest in properties in regeneration areas and environmentally sustainable buildings that have potential to make strong financial returns as well as delivering social and environmental impact.

Magenta Partners - Magenta Partners are a highly entrepreneurial team committed to investing capital in growth businesses. Its principal founder and investor are the Tom Singh Family Trusts - Tom Singh is one of the UK’s leading retail entrepreneurs. The team is small and brings a strong record of professional investing with over 12 years worth of investment experience encompassing 15 investments and 20 acquisitions. Typically Magenta targets opportunities requiring investment of up to £15 million in development capital, buy out, recapitalisation and project finance opportunities. Magenta is comfortable with both majority and minority equity positions and is a sector generalist.

Halo Insurance Services Ltd www.iCarhireinsurance.com is a registered trading name of Halo Insurance Services Limited. Halo Insurance Services Ltd was founded by Ernesto Suarez, a leading insurance professional with 10 years experience in the industry. Halo Insurance Services Ltd is registered in England number 6929208. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Register No. 504629 for the sale and administration of general insurance products in the United Kingdom and throughout the European Economic Area (EEA).

Source: Bridges Ventures

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