The Insider is keeping his ear to the ground for buy-out rumours and party invites
Legendary investor Warren Buffett has revealed his firm Berkshire Hathaway sold insurance requiring a £30m payout if France wins the World Cup. He didn’t reveal much more detail, but a unit that deals in large and unusual risks made the bet. France is a good team, so there’s a distinct possibility they could repeat their success of 1998. It all sounds a bit strange. Maybe Buffett is turning into a bookmaker in his old age?
Aviva la disco!
Plans for the biggest insurance party this side of Easter have been confirmed. And, no, it’s not the industry’s celebration of the impending exit of FSA chief executive Hector Sants. This, my friends, will be the leaving party of all leaving parties, or so I’ve heard. Yes, fun-loving Aviva sales and marketing director John Kitson, the man brokers all love to adore, will officially go out with a bang when he hangs up his boots at the end of March. The do will take place at Aviva’s Marble Hall HQ in Norwich and is set to be the hottest ticket in town. So here’s where I start the lobbying for me and my pals at Insurance Times, who have yet to receive their invites. Maybe it’s in the post?
Moss sizes up the market
Sticking with Aviva, and it’s over to the launch of the Geneva Association’s new report on systemic risk in the insurance industry – no nodding off at the back, please. Who was there to enliven proceedings but mein host Andrew Moss? Smiling broadly, Mr Moss prefaced his remarks by announcing to the gathered scribblers that “size is not everything”. He then proceeded to launch into a discussion of whether financial institutions are too big to fail. I can only speculate where the assembled hacks’ thoughts had been leading …
A not so Kwik(Fit) sale
I have a little bit of gossip on the buy-out situation at Provident and Kwik-Fit. First, Provident: my friends in high places tell me it’s a well-run business that will definitely excite interest but, like all these deals, it depends on the price. That bit isn’t even clear yet. I’m hearing Goldman Sachs is drawing up the papers and will soon make it all clear. And talking of price, it’s not so good news for Kwik-Fit. In a game of who blinks first, I’m hearing the market is baulking at the £200m asking price, while Kwik-Fit won’t budge on its position either. A trade sale is unlikely, so my guess is it will be a buy-out from a private equity firm; if not, the sale will fall through. Remember, you heard it here first.
Didier? Did he heck …
Last week, I pointed out former West Ham star Dean Ashton’s insurance acumen. Well, this week I’d like to illuminate Chelsea frontman Didier Drogba’s lack of savvy. Caught driving without insurance, Drogba said he thought he was okay because he had a French insurance policy. Excuse me? Looks like that’s one fella who was born with brains in his feet rather than his head.
Go compare crazy adverts
Gocompare may have the most annoying ad on TV, but it’s certainly working. Opera singer Gio Compario helped the price comparison site grow customer numbers 20% this year. It looks like the TV advertising days of boring micromen jumping on keyboards and over-happy customer reviews are over. It’s all about strange animals, manic puppets and crazy people. It won’t be long before Moneysupermarket drops comedian Omid Djalili for someone or something more zany. Guesses on a postcard please … IT