Company hoping to turn Zenith in to profitable business

Caribbean-based Guardian Holdings (GHL) has confirmed it is carrying out a strategic review of its business, including its UK arm.

The financial services company refused to comment on whether this was linked to speculation earlier this year that it was looking to sell GHL Insurance Services UK, which includes Zenith Insurance.

Last week GHL appointed Peter Austin chief executive of Zenith, replacing interim boss Derek Wiley. Austin was previously chief executive of GHL Insurance Services (GHLIS).

Jeff Mack, Guardian Holdings’ group chief executive, told Insurance Times there was no timeline for the review and that he hoped Austin’s appointment would turn around Zenith.

“It is no secret that Zenith has underperformed but I am confident that some of the changes that have been made there will turn the company back into a performing one,” he said.

He added that the company also could make new acquisitions in the UK but had not decided if it would make further investments in its current business.

“We have opportunities to expand our capital in lots of different areas, and lots of our businesses are looking for us to invest in the business and expand. Zenith is one that is looking for us to invest additional capital and we will review that,” he said.

Mack said he hoped to appoint a replacement for Austin at GHLIS soon, but Susan McGuire, director of human resources and business services at the company, would take over the day-to-day management.

Joy Butler, the company’s director of finance, will assume the function of chief executive.

GHL, which has its head office in Trinidad and Tobago, owns Gibraltar-based insurers Link and Zenith, and GHL Insurance Services UK.

GHL transferred the insurance business of Link to Zenith in December 2007.

Less than a year later, Steve Tidd, chief executive of Guardian Holdings Europe and Zenith, resigned from the business.