A warm glow surrounded the Association of British Insurers' (ABI) summer press party last week on the seventh floor of its Gresham Street office. And it wasn't just the evening sunshine. The ABI reckoned it had had a good few weeks, coming out with dignity from the Sandler and Pickering reports, as well as securing a deal on terrorism for general insurers and making strides in putting liability on the Treasury agenda.

Deputy director general Stephen Sklaroff was in particularly fine fettle, beaming at the prospect of taking over the helm for a couple of weeks from Mary Francis, who will be tramping up mountains on the west coast of Canada.

What news of the proposed ABI-BBA merger? Sklaroff was understandably canny.

"The report's nearly there," he said of the KPMG study. But Francis, perhaps already thinking of her holidays was much more forthcoming. "I think we should be considering it all in the autumn," she said.