The Insider keeps a close eye on Neil Utley’s wheeling and dealing, while raising yet another glass with Peter Cullum

When it comes to standing out from the crowd, you’ve got to hand it to Lloyd’s insurer Canopius. To distinguish themselves from the throng of other underwriters in Monte Carlo this year, the Canopius team had their business cards make up like old-fashioned football cards, replete with pictures of the executives in a Canopius strip bearing the number 10 – denoting the fact that the firm is now a top 10 Lloyd’s player. Apparently some brokers were trying to collect the full set. Just shows that some people never grow up …

All we need is one biddy in the red tops …

I was particularly amused to hear one of David Williams’ ideas for spreading public awareness of insurance fraud. The AXA claims director looked more than a little wistful as he shared his dream of a ‘Bang up a biddy’ campaign. He remarked that a high-profile prosecution, complete with front-page coverage in the tabloids, could provide some much-needed publicity for the fight against insurance fraud. Williams’ ideas got a warm reception at the Insurance Times claims optimisation breakfast, though he was quick to say he’d prefer that particular campaign to be fronted by one of AXA’s competitors.

Phil pledges he’ll be back on the piste

Fresh proof of what a plucky bunch brokers are. One of my spies popped over to see Jelf’s insurance chief executive Phil Barton last week. The ex non-league footballer may be on crutches following a knee operation, but says he will be on the slopes for the new skiing season in December.

My old pal Grant Ellis’s knee also went under the knife last week. Not to be outdone, the Broker Network chairman insists that the procedure won’t derail his plans for a marathon charity bike ride in South Africa next year. As my old and sadly deceased celebrity mate Roy Castle used to put it: “Dedication – it’s all you need.”

A little gen on a new sexagenarian

If you thought Peter Cullum was slowing down now he’s turned 60, you’d be wrong.

I’ve shared a glass or two with the Towergate tycoon, and he’s generally calm – just don’t mention the banks. Speaking recently at Cass Business School in London, Cullum lashed the banks’ “outrageous behaviour”.

He said: “Cash is the oxygen for most businesses and in many instances it has been turned off.” Cullum said too many businesses had been frozen out. “If you’re trying to borrow money for a greenfield [project], you might as well go and buy some fairy dust.” The old chap certainly still has plenty of fire in his belly.

Old chums with deep pockets

And talking about movers and shakers, I hear that serial entrepreneur Neil Utley is bringing together a consortium of businessmen looking to bag bargains. I’m told that Utley has big hitter Tom Duggan on board. Duggan – who sold A-Plan to Barclays Private Equity for a fee believed to be well in excess of £150m in 2008 – is thought to be keen on dipping into his very deep pockets to back a potential management buy-out. He has already worked with Utley on the Hastings MBO. I’ll be watching developments, especially as the aforementioned Peter Cullum is also rumoured to be playing.

Under par? No, not Ashwin

And finally down to the Cabinet War Rooms in London, where I saw my good friend Ashwin Mistry at Brokerbility’s South East reception. Amid the Battle of Britain memorabilia, Mistry was looking relaxed, probably due to having just come back from Portugal. He’d been there representing India in the Golf World Cup of Nations, reflecting his ties in the Asian community. As they say on the greens, fore! IT