Insurance broker Towergate has made the first of several expected disposals as one of Britain’s biggest private companies tries to raise cash as part of a fight to stay in business.

The heavily indebted group is to raise £27m by agreeing to sell Hayward Aviation, which arranges aircraft cover, to the FTSE 250-listed broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson.

Towergate — chaired by Alastair Lyons, who resigned from the board of Serco last month after the outsourcer issued a series of profit warnings — is considering sales of other assets to increase cash flows.

It comes as Marsh & McLennan, the US-listed broker, eyes a possible takeover of Towergate, backed by the private equity house Advent. Peter Cullum, the billionaire entrepreneur who founded the business 17 years ago and is its deputy chairman, has also been considering a bid.

However, it is unclear how much the equity is worth as Towergate, which has run into difficulties after an aggressive acquisition spree, heads for a capital restructuring.

Investment banking advisers to Towergate, which has a net debt burden of almost £1bn, last week invited bondholders to take control of the business in what would be likely to involve a debt-for-equity swap.

Hayward, which arranges insurance for regional airlines, small commercial fleets and individual jets and helicopters, is among several non-core assets of Towergate, which made almost 300 acquisitions over 16 years.

JLT said it would integrate Hayward, which last year made sales of £10m and pre-tax profits of £3m, into its existing aviation business. The deal is expected to complete early in the new year.

Towergate cautioned last month it might not survive as a going concern if a restructuring could not be agreed. It is in talks with lenders led by Lloyds Banking Group to renegotiate banking covenants.

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