Discussions to sell network fail.

Cobra chief executive Steve Burrows has no current plans to sell the business after takeover talks with a potential buyer collapsed last week, he told Insurance Times.

Burrows was responding to market speculation that the network has been looking to sell for some time. “At the current time there is no intention to sell Cobra,” he said.

“We have not got a ‘for sale’ sign outside our door.”

On Friday, the AIM-listed network told the London Stock Exchange that the discussions had come to a halt.

In a statement, it said: “On 4 July 2008 the board of Cobra Holdings announced that it had received an approach and was in discussions which may lead to an offer for the whole of the issued and to be issued share capital of the company.”

Burrows said no firm offer had been made. “During the talks we had, the synergies were not there. It was as simple as that,” he said. “It is tough for somebody coming in to show that there are new synergies to make it work in a new environment. Until we find someone who can show that it works, we won’t entertain it.

I don’t think there is a company out there that is similar to Cobra.

Steve Burrows

“I don’t think there is a company out there that is similar to Cobra.”

Giles Insurance Brokers was tipped as the front-runner to buy the business. However, its chief executive, Chris Giles, ruled himself out of bidding. Towergate-owned Broker Network has also been strongly linked.

Following the talks’ collapse, Cobra’s share price crashed almost 25% to 77.5p. As Insurance Times went to press, Cobra’s share price had risen more than 3% to 80p.

For now, Cobra would concentrate on consolidating its recent acquisitions, according to Burrows. “We have bought seven brokers and we now need to make it work for us.”

He said the firm still has some acquisitions in the pipeline, but did not expect to target any new deals until next year.r.