Reports say flotation process to begin ‘in a matter of weeks’

Paul Geddes, Direct Line Group

Direct Line Group is to focus on flotation after parent bank RBS ended talks with potential private equity buyers for the insurer, The Telegraph reports.  

According to the paper, the flotation will launch in a matter of weeks.  

Several private equity firms had been linked with Direct Line Group, including Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and KKR.

RBS has to sell its stake in Direct Line Group by the end of 2014 under the conditions of its 2008 bailout by the government.

RBS was originally pursuing a dual strategy for Direct Line Group, considering both a flotation or trade sale of the insurance arm to fulfil the terms of its government bailout.

However, the bank has more recently insisted it is focusing on flotation of Direct Line Group, despite unfavourable market conditions and persistent talk of private equity interest in buying the insurer.

“The plan is an IPO [initial public offering] and that is what we are preparing for,” Direct Line Group chief executive Paul Geddes told Insurance Times following the release of the company’s first-half 2012 results.  

Direct Line Group is the biggest personal lines insurer in the UK, and is the holding company for a number of household insurance brands, including Churchill, Direct Line and Privilege. It also owns broker-only commercial insurer NIG, which some have speculated would be spun off if Direct Line were sold to private equity.