The sale of Groupama UK could finally be within sight as Ageas closes in with a deal

At last. After nearly nine months of uncertainty, the sale of Groupama UK could be reaching a resolution. Ageas is a natural fit and one that brokers would welcome. But if a deal is reached, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Groupama management team.

It’s difficult to imagine Groupama UK chief executive François-Xavier Boisseau and managing director Laurent Matras, who have been given a lot of freedom from their Paris masters, working under Ageas Insurance managing director Mark Cliff. Something, somewhere has to give.

And then there’s the Ageas business model itself. Rivals have questioned whether a business trading narrow margins and built up through acquisitions of diverse distribution brands is sustainable. Yet Ageas is producing solid financial results and has won praise from brokers for its service. Ultimately, Ageas is a good home for Groupama, and many will be hoping it is tied up soon.

Meanwhile, about 900 jobs are at risk at Direct Line Group as the insurer continues to slash its expense base and present itself as a lean business for its upcoming flotation.

The IPO is a huge event for the insurance market; it will set the trend for other aspiring floating insurance firms, and as the largest player in personal lines, any post-IPO strategy changes, such as the pricing of premiums, could affect the rest of the market. Insurance Times will be watching events closely.

Finally, take a look at this week’s Spotlight on common standards in personal lines e-trading. The market is fast-evolving as brokers and insurers strive for instant customer profiling to improve their pricing and claims experience.

In the background there is an increasingly heated debate over whether there should be common standards for broker e-trading and price comparison sites. Where do you stand?