The Insider is sniffing around the drinks reception at AXA Art and hoping he’ll be like Warren Buffett at 80

I'll scream if I see or hear another headline about the BA cabin crew strike. I mean, it's infuriating, isn't it? Here we are, trying to keep the international wheels of finance turning, not to mention taking the odd much-needed break abroad, and these scallywags are getting in the way. Travel is hard enough without some off-duty co-pilot serving your champagne. If you don’t believe me, ask Swiss Re chief executive Stefan Lippe. Word reaches me that, on a recent trip to Bermuda for an international insurance conference, the poor chap lost his baggage – or rather, the airline lost it for him. Lippe had to appear on stage for his panel session in an outfit hastily assembled from the gift shop at the country club that hosted the conference. I wonder who reinsures his travel arrangements?

Ninety is the new 50 for Hodson

Oval boss Phillip Hodson is a man of mystery. Previously, he has said he would float the business by 2012; this week he appeared to change his mind, saying he may make a transformational deal instead. In the past he has talked about stepping down as chief executive by 2012 to be replaced by an up-and-coming superstar; now, the wily Yorkshireman seems keen to stick around. He said: “The board has said I need to be retired before I’m 90, so I’ve got 32 years left.” Brilliant!

Growing old gracelessly

Warren Buffett may be approaching 80, but he sure knows how to have a good time. The Oracle of Omaha donned an Axl Rose-style wig, purple bandana and fake tattoos for a promotional video for one of his American insurance companies. OK, he looks like a bit of a prat but it’s all in good spirits. Now tell me again, who said insurance was dull?

You’ve got a friend in me

My dearest friend Patrick Snowball was seen striding purposefully around the City last week, jet-lagged and with a tired look on his face. What could be troubling the former Aviva boss? He could be missing his good friend Bridget McIntyre, who has joined Fortis after a stint as a consultant with Suncorp, the Australian firm he heads up. Oh well, if you ever fancy a drop of brandy and a shoulder to cry on Patrick, you know where I am.

Now that’s what I call diligent

Provident may be up for grabs, but interested parties are going to have to wait a little before beginning negotiations. I gather Goldman Sachs is putting together a vendor due diligence package. Usually, due diligence takes place after the handshakes on the deal. By sorting it out beforehand, a sale is likely to be smoother. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the price. My guess is that American car giant GMAC, on its knees after being bailed out by the US government, will be selling Provident for a lot less than the £170m it paid for the business.

Keating knows who whistled

To the Royal Academy of the Arts for the annual drinks reception of AXA Art, and les garçons were on parade in force: Philippe Maso, Ant Middle, Paul Meehan and Stuart Reid, not forgetting the affable personal lines director Mike Keating. Keating informed Insurance Times that, following 27 text messages of denial, he has found out who grassed him up to the press for a little over-exuberance during a recent spot of corporate entertaining in the City. I wouldn’t like to be in their chaussures …

Has Declan gone for a Brazilian?

Has anyone seen Declan Treanor? Thought not. The former Garwyn chief executive stepped down in January and disappeared without trace. Recently, though, he told one of my pals that he was in South America but is out of contact for days at a time. That means he could be trawling the Amazon rainforest or partying on the Copacabana. I’ll leave that to you to decide. IT