Where do former AXA bosses go? How long will private equity houses hog the headlines? Insider keeps his ear to the ground...

Where’s Hubbard?

Whatever happened to Peter Hubbard, the former AXA chief who fell on his sword just over a year ago? The rumour doing the rounds a few months back was that he was contemplating a move to a private equity house – Charterhouse was the name most often mentioned. But my spies tell me he is happy keeping a low profile.

Keep an eye on Peter, though, as he may take a non-executive role at a troubled insurer. Would he go further and front a private equity bid for an insurer entity? Sounds like too much hard work to me …

No half measures for 3i

I was interested to read this week that private equity group 3i has bumped up its 50% stake in its investment vehicle, 3i Quoted Private Equity, to 100%. No doubt Alex Alway of Jelf was interested too, because the move changes the way 3i can invest in the broker business.

The Jelf stake is now wholly owned by the same part of the private equity house as owns a 30% share of David Howden’s Hyperion Group. And 3i has a lot more freedom. It could increase its holding in Jelf, for example, or its representation on the board. Watch this space.

Runners and riders

While the private equity houses and insurers have been keeping the market moving, the consolidator boys have been fairly hush-hush so far this year. Maybe they haven’t got any money – or maybe they’ve been chained to their desks by their various paymasters. But never fear: Cheltenham races kicks off in a couple of weeks and as those broker boys get together and the champers starts flowing, there’s bound to be a deal or two on the cards.

Over the Cliff

I hear Fortis has taken over from AXA as the capacity provider for Primary’s UK Underwriting. Well, it’s no surprise that there have been changes. There was a lot of chatter about Primary last year although, apart from a number of redundancies, it came to nothing. A pal of mine – and he should know – tells me AXA was losing money hand over fist on the account and had no option but to call it a day. Apparently, new Fortis Insurance managing director Mark Cliff thought he could do a better job. After all, it was his account when he was at AXA and he’s close to Primary chief executive Philip James. So he has taken the account with him to Fortis.

Tobin United

How often do we hear about Manchester United “fans” who actually live in London (or Seoul or Beijing)? Some might call them glory-hunters. One exception is Torus chief executive Clive Tobin. A northerner who lived a stone’s throw from Old Trafford while studying in Manchester, he is a proud Red Devil. A picture of him laughing with United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson has pride of place on his mantelpiece, a little birdie tells me.

Maybe Tobin likes to see himself as the football manager of Torus. They pay their staff handsomely, have foreign owners and are the new kids on the block. I’m no expert, but that sounds more like Manchester City.

Rub-a-dub-dub, is that two men in a tub?

The press team at RSA certainly know the way to a girl’s heart. Two of my lady friends at Insurance Times were treated to an evening at a London spa last week, complete with pedicures, facials, backrubs – and lashings of champagne. Rumours that Paul Donaldson and Adrian Brown were spotted in the mud baths wearing cucumber face packs have been vehemently denied.

The only item off the spa menu was the persistent speculation that the insurer is up for sale. Then again, by the time the talented beauty therapists had done their bit, the journalists were too dozy and docile to press the matter. A press officer’s dream ...