Who would bid for Bluefin? Who did insure that £10m tongue? Who’s crazy about mini-putt? Read on for all the answers ...
As the only industry figure who has £200m in his pocket (and a lot of pressure to spend it), one would assume it is Chris Giles who has been knocking on Philippe Maso’s door asking whether he can buy Bluefin. One would also imagine that the negotiating styles of the two men are – how should I put this? – somewhat different. But it would be a hell of a deal for the Scot if he could pull it off.
I hear there is much excitement in the Brit camp since the group announced its plan to re-domicile in the Netherlands. Distribution director Simon Cooter informs me that he is already lining up some orange outfits in an attempt to get into the spirit. I wonder what else the insurance community could do to let its hair down in Holland? Perhaps it’s better not to speculate …
One for you, one for me
With so many insurers struggling to keep profits strong, it might have stung a little to see The Sunday Times headline, “Fun and games for car insurer”, alongside a photograph of Henry Engelhardt, the Admiral boss, looking happy and carefree next to the mini-putt game in his office.
If that weren’t bad enough, Engelhardt – who lives in Cardiff – has the nerve to be American.
But he’s earned the right to have a laugh. He has no bonus, no pension and no options. He takes home £320,000 a year, possibly making him the lowest-paid chief executive in the FTSE 100. But last week he took a dividend payout of £20m. And with 15 years of growth, he’s been able to make big share payouts to staff too. Perhaps his strategy of matching his interests with those of shareholders is something other companies should watch.
The world goes round ... and round
I hear that insurer Provident has established a cunning form of corporate entertainment to woo brokers and the press. The day starts with a hearty breakfast in the City and continues with a game I last played as a young man in my first year in London. It’s called “Having a Drink at Every Stop on the Circle Line”. All 27 of them.
Apparently, the group generally divides into three categories: those that manage half-pints or a small shot at every stop, the cavalier types who down a pint each time and then head off to Brick Lane for a curry … and those who don’t make it past Mansion House. It’s been a few years, but I rather think I could still do the full circuit.
I’ll wait for my invitation and let you know.
So hot right now
It hardly seems the time to care about frivolous things like fashion. But perhaps the press team at Allianz – which treated a handful of journalists to an afternoon at London Fashion Week, including a young friend from Insurance Times – was just doing its bit to revive the economy. Sure, the bubbly was flowing and the group sat front row at the catwalk, before strutting off with professional stylist tips and a generous goodie bag. But they also did their best to prop up the retail industry, flexing their credit cards at the stalls set up on the lawns of the Natural History Museum.
Speaking of tongues
The tale of the "tongue worth Â£10m"Â filled our newspapers earlier this week, providing sackfuls of free publicity for the high-street coffee chain that insured the lingua of its head taster - not to mention for Lloyd's and for Glencairn, the broker that arranged the cover. Of course, we know that Gennaro Pelliccia, the extravagantly titled "master of coffee", is far from unusual. Wine tasters, hand models and surgically enhanced erotic dancers have all found shelter at the London market. Is there any body part they won't insure?