Insider watches Chris Giles’ shopping basket and looks forward to the Sharecrazy awards for the financial world’s worst

Eighty of the industry’s finest brokers – and their partners – beat the recession last week by taking an all-expenses-paid luxury Mediterranean cruise from Rome, visiting Portofino, Barcelona, Cannes and Monte Carlo, courtesy of the newly rebranded Aviva. The insurer’s top brass were all aboard – even chief executive Igal Mayer sailed on the Silver Whisper. Aviva were so keen to woo their brokers they even christened the vessel “the love boat”. Credit crunch, what credit crunch?

A little Oval tale doing the rounds

The world of brokers enjoys nothing more than a good rumour, and here’s one of the latest doing the rounds: Chris Giles is going to buy Oval and install Axa’s Paul Meehan to run it.

Apparently, it’s a load of cobblers but, as I always say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And as for consolidators consolidating, well, that’s one story that’s just going to keep on running.

Shake a shooting stick

I hear that Axa boss Philippe Maso and broker baron Bob Beckett have struck up an unlikely friendship. Although Beckett is more renowned for holidaying in the Costa del Sol than for an English country gent’s pursuits, word reaches me that he is to embark on a spot of shooting with Maso who, shall we say, enjoys the finer things in life. Reports that Peter Cullum is to join the duo sporting an AK47 are, as yet, unconfirmed.

The worst are soon to come

The one not-to-be-missed awards ceremony of the calendar is the Sharecrazy Worst Company of the Year Awards, the financial industry’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Razzie Awards. T1ps, which hosts the Sharecrazy awards, say they recognise those who “destroy shareholder value by their actions or inactions”. Last year Northern Rock swept the board. It won the worst company of the year title while Sir Derek Wanless, former chairman of its audit and risk committees, was declared most inept non-executive director. Bradford & Bingley’s Chris Willford was named worst finance director. I expect the judges will have a tough job deciding who should get gongs this year as there are so many contenders to choose from. I think at the very least Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ non-exec in the Ponzi fraud case, should get one. There are seven main award categories: worst broker, most disastrous acquisition, worst company, most useless non-exec, most inept finance director and worst chief executive of the year – did I hear anyone say Sir Fred Goodwin? And let’s not forget the lifetime award for value destruction. The best news is that nominations for all these accolades can still be sent in today to Richard.gill@t1ps.com.

A pile of bricks on the Rock

The Gibraltan government was kind enough to take a group of journalists to the Rock recently. One of my pals from Insurance Times was on the trip and came back with the upbeat tidings that the insurance market is alive and kicking in Gibraltar despite these difficult times. I hear the champagne and Peroni certainly did flow.

Apparently, the Gibraltan regulator, the Financial Services Commission, had some bad luck recently. Some new laptops that arrived at the offices had been replaced by bricks. Police were called but staff were left stony-faced.

All the scoop from Airmic

My spies at the Airmic conference tell me it was a jolly atmosphere down in sunny Bournemouth this week. Risk managers were on form at the cosy Bournemouth International Centre, particularly at the “beach party” on Tuesday evening. Making a return from the Biba conference was the popular QBE ice cream parlour. Just what you need for a stroll along the promenade.