The City was sceptical when Norwich Union acquired London and Edinburgh and non-plussed when Norwich Union merged with CGU. Royal & Sunalliance has also had to bear a stock market snub during the bullish years before 2001. But the consolidation that the UK's biggest insurers painfully underwent is about to pay off, according to AT Kearney. The huge economies of scale available in the European single market, coupled with hardening general insurance rates in the UK should deliver healthy profits.

Whether CGNU and RSA are big enough world players is a different matter.