Boisseau supports model where brokers run independently

Groupama Insurances’ chief executive Francois Xavier Boisseau accused financial advisers of trying to create interest in businesses that were not for sale, as he denied rumours that Carole Nash was on the market.

Boisseau stated unequivocally that Groupama has no plans to sell any of its broking businesses – motorcycle specialist Carole Nash, Lark or Bollington – despite market speculation to the contrary.

He added that Groupama would back Lark and Bollington in small acquisitions in the months ahead.

Boisseau said: “Financial advisers are lacking jobs so they keep on spreading rumours, even sometimes issuing information memorandums when no one asks them to do so. There was exactly the same rumour on Lark a few months ago, which I absolutely denied.

“Let me put the record straight. Today, we are not only comfortable [with the businesses] but they are working very well for the group. Carole Nash is working very well, Bollington and Lark are very robust businesses and it’s absolutely out of the question to sell them.”

He added: “It’s quite usual in this market when sales and acquisitions activity are depressed for people to try to force or create a situation without anyone actually being interested in it.”

Boisseau said he had no plans to integrate the three businesses, as rival AXA has done with the broking businesses that now make up Blufin.

He said: “I believe strongly in a model where those brokers are run independently, from Groupama Insurances and from each other.

“Each business is a profit centre and I do believe that keeping them independent creates more value than trying to save on finance or HR, and in addition to that Lark and Bollington management still have some interest in the businesses.”

Market sources had speculated that Carole Nash was on the market, and that the broking businesses, acquired in 2006 and 2007, were not creating as much value for Groupama as it had originally envisaged.

Meanwhile, Groupama announced this week that it was relocating its head office from Minories to America Square as it scaled down its City presence, with 25 jobs being cut to Croydon and Portsmouth, and other staff working from home.

Groupama’s corporate services director, Paul Picknett, said: “With the lease due to expire on our Minories offices, we had the opportunity to look at how we could work smarter and save costs on expensive floor space in the City.

“It became clear that with the increasing use of mobile and video technology, we simply no longer need to have such a sizeable presence in London.”