Cox is on the point of signing a major deal to outsource the administration of its discontinued commercial business.

Chief executive Neil Utley is heading for a spending spree with plans to buy brokers after a 62% rise in distribution profits.

Speculation surrounds Cox's interest in Lloyd's wholesale broker Sterling Hamilton Wright, with a deal predicted to be signed soon.

The insurer last year pulled out of commercial business in favour of mainly motor underwriting and distribution.

Utley said all staff working on the run-off business would be transferred as part of the outsourcing deal, preventing any redundancies.

The commercial book, which racked up huge losses including an estimated net loss from the WTC attacks of £120m, has 80% fewer live risks than it did in January.

It lost £1.4m in the first six months of 2003, an improvement from a loss of £10.5m in the same period last year.

Utley said he was in "serious talks" over the acquisition of ten brokers' offices, with about six expected to come to fruition within four months.

He wants to increase Cox's current network of 23 broker branches up to about 100.

Results

  • Operating profit before tax for continuing operations: £29.7m, up from £19.5m
  • Operating profit before tax on all operations: £28.3m, up from £9m