HSBC Insurance Brokers has begun a beauty parade for its small and medium enterprise (SME) book of business, worth £10m, over its "growing concerns with NIG's parentage", according to sources.

This is a further blow to NIG, which is facing a £2m lawsuit over unpaid claims from its Special Risks Division, now in run-off.

Last week, it is understood that the tender went out to underwrite HSBC's policies and various insurers are interested, among them Norwich Union, AXA and Allianz Cornhill.

The business out to tender comprises SME business within the £5,000 - £50,000 premium income bracket.

One source said: "The book includes the small retail market and some affinity scheme business."

Two weeks ago, NIG announced that its managing director Phil Bunker was being replaced in March by Charles Crawford. NIG and HSBC declined to comment.