Markerstudy watches developments but remains uncertain of the figures

The battle for motor insurer Provident stepped up this week as the deadline for the first round of bids came and went.

The motor insurer – put up for sale by US parent GMAC – has been searching for a new owner since February. Corporate advisors Goldman Sachs have been hired to conduct the sale.

Rival motor insurer Markerstudy is understood to be keeping a close eye on the situation after deciding against making an offer at the current time.

A source close to the Gibraltar-based firm said it remained uncertain over Provident’s existing numbers and that it was unlikely to make the next round of the negotiations. It comes after Insurance Times revealed last month that Provident reported a £31.1m loss in 2009.

Goldman Sachs is now understood to be reviewing any offers and is expected to identify preferred bidders shortly.

Other potential bidders include IAG UK chief executive Neil Utley, the UK’s largest insurer Aviva, and a buy-out led by Provident management including managing director James Reader.

Utley could not be reached to comment. Aviva and GMAC declined to comment.