A profit warning from Goshawk Insurance is likely to strengthen the hand of major shareholder Phoenix Asset Management in its bid to seize management control of the insurer.

Goshawk finance director Jonathan Beck said he expected to reveal a "marginal loss" for the first half rather than the "small profit" previously forecast, when the results are published on 15 September.

The change in position has been put down to larger than expected offshore energy catastrophe losses arising from Hurricane Ivan.

The announcement is likely to frustrate shareholders, the majority of which rejected the director's remuneration package at the company's AGM last month.

Sir Peter Thompson, chairman of Phoenix, which owns 28.9% of the share capital in Goshawk, has led criticisms targeted at the insurer for paying its directors excessive bonuses despite "failing to deliver for shareholders".

A spokesman for Phoenix confirmed it would be looking to call an emergency general meeting in the coming weeks.

It will attempt to persuade shareholders to oust the existing board and replace it with its own management team.