Excitement revs up as the World Cup nears, and the Insider listens out for more on the Kwik Fit sale … ooh, it’s gonna cost ya

There’s a little story doing the rounds about Peter Cullum’s 60th birthday. I’m hearing that Cullum had originally eyed up either global superstar Lionel Ritchie or the legendary rocker Rod Stewart as potential singers for his lavish bash at Hampton Court. But I’ve been told the details of these superstars’ demands, and let’s just say the Towergate tycoon wasn’t too impressed. Instead, as you heard here first, Cullum has now lined up Marti Pellow, the lead singer from Wet Wet Wet, to take up the microphone. I wonder what attracted Cullum to Pellow? Perhaps he had a phonecall from the Scotsman enquiring: “Hello, is it me you’re looking for …”

Veterans of 1966 talk a good game

And so to the Equity Red Star dinner at Lloyd’s where World Cup fever was mounting. Special guests included legendary World Cup greats Gordon Banks and Martin Peters, both winners in the 1966 final, of course. A well-rehearsed and smooth double act, they certainly kept the crowd entertained with some wonderful anecdotes. After completing their short patter, they took questions from the crowd. Peters, still a West Ham man at heart, shot down the dreams of one starry-eyed Spurs fan who asked about their prospects in the Champions League, much to the amusement of rival supporters. And the Banks/Peters tip for the World Cup dark horses? South Korea. Strange but true. You heard it here first.

On yer bike, mate

It’s all heating up in the world of motorbike insurance, I hear. Bike broker Bennetts has tried to get one over on rival MCE Insurance by spending the last month preparing a roundabout for sponsorship outside its offices. When the Bennetts babes and staff turned up for the launch, MCE sent out its mascot – Big Ed – to join in the fun. MCE director Julian Edwards quipped: “The whole team at MCE would like to thank Bennetts for paying for some beautiful flowers and for their acknowledgement that MCE is the number one for bike insurance! Apart from a double win at the Insurance Times Awards 2009, this is the proudest day in our 35-year history.” See photos, right.

Racing to the finish

On the subject of motorbikes, I recently learnt that Groupama chief exectuve François-Xavier Boisseau has his own set of two wheels sitting proudly in his office. The story goes that when Groupama won the tender for Carole Nash, Equity boss Neil Utley – who was also in the race – rather generously sent FXB the bike as a ‘congratulations on your purchase’ gift. The first thing a chuffed FXB did was to send the bike off to a garage to have it branded with Carole Nash. If this trend catches on, the new suitors of Provident, KGM or Kwik-Fit could be in for quite a treat …

No chance of a kwik sale then

It’s been all quiet since Kwik-Fit revealed it was up for grabs. It’s a complicated deal, I’m hearing, and with private equity still mooted as the most likely option, a straight trade sale hasn’t been ruled out. Word doing the rounds is that conditions of the deal will almost certainly include the retention of the Kwik Fit brand, which gives the business so much pulling power with customers. I’ll keep my ear to the ground for any more updates. Watch this space.

Rallying round for charity

I must take my hat off to super-fit Lockton chairman Mike Hammond and his team. Hammond and the executive committee cycled into Birmingham last week, completing a 183-mile trip from their Bristol and Manchester offices in just under 10 hours. They cycled the trip in relay teams. They raised £22,500 for the Alzheimer’s Society, their charity of choice, taking their total so far this year to £82,500. Lockton certainly got a big pat on the back from the Alzheimer’s Society, having exceeded the £50,000 target set earlier this year. I'll add to that – well done team Lockton. IT