The Insider enjoys a cricketing War of the Roses, survives the hard sell from Biba and predicts the future for the psychic octopus

Broker boss Joe Henderson is never backward in coming forward. In a recent 20/20 cricket match between Yorkshire and Leicestershire, it turned out his Leeds-based firm was up against one of its closest rivals in a battle of pride. Yorkshire, whose shirts were emblazoned with the Henderson Insurance Brokers logo, defeated Leicestershire, sponsored by Phillip Hodson’s Oval, in a convincing nine-wicket victory. Hodson, a proud Yorkshireman, was already suffering divided loyalties before having to face the defeat by Henderson's team. Henderson, a Lancastrian, took great pleasure in the “trouncing”, and remarked “sport is similar to business; you have to stick with the winners”. I, for one, cannot wait for the rematch.

New desk, new owner

Since Apollo started chasing Brit, Peter Burrows’ job has suddenly looked a little less attractive. After all, who wants to go in as chief exec when you don’t know who your owner will be by the time you get your feet under the desk? Or could there be another solution? My spies tell me that Apollo has been making a few discreet enquiries as to who it could parachute into the top job when Burrows stands down if it gets its hands on the business.

Step up for a soaking

Whoever it is can at least take comfort in the fact that they won’t get covered in gunge. RSA’s Adrian Brown was happy to take a soaking in the name of charity in the insurer’s 300th year – or so he says. In fact, at RSA’s summer press party, Brown was so cheery at the memory that he seemed open to the prospect of an annual gunging. Any other chief execs out there willing to step up?

Don’t all rush at once

I’ve just received my invitation to Biba’s AGM, which should have its members queuing round the block. It describes the AGM as “traditionally a low-key event, lasting only a few minutes, which members need not feel obliged to attend. However,” the Biba missive continues enticingly, “it is emphasised that this should not inhibit any member from attending if that is their wish.” It’s the way they sell it.

Another door opens at Canary Wharf

And I note that chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was pushing for the EU’s new super-regulator to be located in London when he had his latest pow-wow with fellow EU finance ministers this week. I know just the place where the regulator could be based. If the government has its way, the FSA may not need its Canary Wharf HQ for much longer.

Eight times lucky for some

Just a thought: some enterprising underwriter might want to consider offering the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany coverage for their score-predicting octopus, Paul. While Paul has reportedly now retired from making match predictions after correctly calling the outcome of all Germany’s World Cup matches, one fears he might still be under threat from either enterprising book-keepers or disgruntled German football fans. Imagine the premium you could charge for insuring eight legs instead of two.

Buyer for Provident waits, and waits

So just what is going on with the Provident sale? Five months since their American owner GMAC raised the ‘For sale’ sign and it’s all quiet on the western front. The latest buzz in the market is that the sale could be off until GMAC can realise its true value. The acquisitive Markerstudy still hasn’t given up hope yet, though, despite some opposite speculation. A source close to the motor insurer said: “Our hat is still very much in the ring.” Could Markerstudy still pull off a deal out of the blue, just like when Fortis snapped up Kwik-Fit Insurance recently? Let’s hope so, because it’s getting really boring now …