Charles Earle has returned to the insurance industry with the launch of a commercial lines underwriting agency, following his departure from NIG in September last year.

The former managing director of NIG commercial lines is joined by Lyn Carslake, NIG's former director of commercial lines, who also left the insurer last year.

The company, which has yet to be named, will focus on broker-administered SME business in the UK. It intends to arrange agencies with a limited panel of brokers. The new venture aims to have the capacity to write more than £250m of business.

It has secured the support of Lloyd's underwriters Canopius and Equity Insurance Group as investors and long-term insurers of the core SME property, liability and motor classes of the business.

Equity will write commercial motor, which is expected to form 25% of the business, while Canopius will write property, which will make up 55%, and liability at a predicted 20% of the business.

Chief executive Earle said the hunt for new recruits was now in full swing with the intention of employing 80 staff over the next 12 months. He said a number of people had already been approached and some were working their notice or were on gardening leave.

Earle said: "We have huge advantages in starting with an unencumbered business and no legacies in systems or in management control attitudes and offer brokers a genuine chance to work with an insurance provider that will design its processes around theirs in an effort to reduce frictional costs."

The company expects to start writing business at the end of November.