Insurance Times’s man on the inside is in Manchester – read his updates from Biba 2012 here

Tuesday 15th:

It all begins here

The Biba conference is ideal for an incurable gossip like myself. So this year’s event was too good to miss. I’m in Manchester to keep an eye on proceedings and find out what’s what. Keep an eye out for my updates on who’s saying what in the exhibition hall. There is sure to be plenty of rumours and amusing anecdotes flying around.

First look

I’ve arrived in Manchester and taken a quick peak inside the exhibition hall. The first person I saw was AXA Commercial chief Amanda Blanc walking through the corridors in a high-viz vest, cunningly matched with her trademark unusual platform shoes. However, she had not come as prepared as her colleague David Williams, who arrived sporting his own tradesman’s uniform. The stands are still under construction, but expect surprises from Markerstudy and Ascot. Groupama had yet to raise a ‘For Sale’ sign.

Setting up Biba 2012


Wednesday 16th:

The word on the street in Manchester …

… courtesy of AXA:

AXA Biba pic


The wrong direction

Up bright and early on the first day of the Biba conference, I was chatting to a few broker pals that are staying in the Jurys Inn hotel in Manchester. One of my chums told me that the hotel is regularly used by the producers of The Jeremy Kyle Show, who put up guests there overnight before sending a cab to drive them to the film studio. Any conference attendees getting into cabs outside the Jurys Inn would be well advised to make sure they double-check the destination with the driver before setting off.

Talk about multitasking …

The hidden talents of people in the insurance industry never cease to amaze me or, it seems, their chief executives. Arista chief Charles Earle tells me that, at his company’s five-year anniversary party a couple of weeks ago, one of the staff from the West Country office was break-dancing while drinking beer. No such action for Charles himself, however. He was dragged to the dancefloor briefly but managed to make good his escape.

Together apart

You’ve got to love Cobra. I’m hearing that, at the AXA dinner last night, managing director John Lincoln and chief executive Steve Burrows kept their distance. Burrows wants to buy out Cobra, but Lincoln is keeping his cards close to his chest as Towergate is waiting in the wings. The two obviously don’t want to be seen together while the deal negotiations continue.

Hammers time

Meanwhile, AXA’s Steve Hardy has a diamond package for the West Ham play-off final at Wembley this Saturday against Blackpool. Blackpool fan and Paymentshield boss Tim Johnson will be keeping clear at Biba, however. Blackpool have lost 4-0 and 4-1 against the Hammers in the Championship this season, making him an easy target for some pre-match mocking.

A colossal digger

I’m hearing that Adrian Colosso, the former Heath Lambert boss, is keeping himself busy by doing up his daughters’ homes. They better not let him loose in the garden. Colosso also has a gigantic digger and, if he gets bored enough, he might just take it to the garden.