Kieran Rigby tells the Insider his secrets, Alex Alway keeps on smiling and disaster strikes (the walls) at Amlin

Speaking of interior design, I won’t be taking any tips from the people who did the Amlin headquarters in Chelmsford, Essex. The boardroom is dominated by a giant montage of disasters, natural and manmade. Photographs of 9/11, flooding and catastrophe make up the grim work of art. One amateur critic who visited the Lloyd’s stalwart told me the piece left them feeling “a bit cold”. Come on, boys, can’t you put up something a bit more cheerful?

Kieran fesses up
So, after months of playing a straight bat, Kieran Rigby, the chief executive of GAB Robins, has revealed that he is leading an audacious bid to buy the company. Put to one side the fierce competition, the pension fund deficit and the financial crisis and it looks like a good bet. After all, pensions aside, the loss adjuster is making money now. In retrospect, we should have seen it coming. After Brera, the group’s US parent, announced it was looking to flog the business, Kieran was inundated with phone calls from worried friends. He shrugged off their concerns, telling pals he was “totally relaxed” and had not prepared a CV in years. Now we know why. Let’s hope he can pull it off.

The long and the short of Jelf

Jelf boss Alex Alway seems remarkably upbeat about the collapse of the consolidator’s share price. Jelf shares were trading at 56p on Tuesday morning, almost 80% down on its 52-week high of just under 280p. “We’re great value,” he enthused. “Have you bought some?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was shorting the stock a few months ago – and made enough to top up my Patek Philippe watch collection. Hmm, now might be the time to go long …

Big fat cold

Actuaries are going to love this one. Predicting life expectancy is hard enough but, now, a US doctor has been banging on about how it might be possible to “catch” obesity through a cold virus. As Mrs Insider has me on a diet of steamed pak choi and hot water – she says January detox; I say penance for suggesting my first wife was a better cook – I can’t help but wonder if this virus thing is true. A third of UK adults are expected to be obese by 2012 and Dr Nikhil Dhurandhar from Louisiana thinks the virus, adenovirus-36, could have something to do with it. I’d better not be eating like a sparrow for nothing.

Blonde ambition

The words sexy and insurance don’t often go together (though nobody seems to have told Iggy Pop, currently cavorting topless across our TV screens). But that hasn’t stopped bike insurer Bennetts launching its sixth annual search for a “modelling squad”. This year Nicola McLean – one of the Wags from the latest series of I’m A Celebrity – will be leading the search for these august representatives of our sector. And she knows how to rustle up interest in the hunt, saying: “I started my modelling career with a shoot for a biking magazine so I’m really excited about dusting off my leathers.” Go to to, ahem, support this valuable industry initiative.

Basket case

So I’m thinking about redecorating my office – just a modest facelift to give much needed employment to starving decorators. Then again, that didn’t work out too well for John Thain. The former chief executive of Merrill Lynch resigned last week after reporting a $15.3bn loss in the fourth quarter. But he got even more stick after it was revealed that he had spent $1.2m on renovations to his office, including $87,000 on a rug and $1,400 on a wastepaper basket. Suddenly AIG’s spa break sounds like a bargain ...