Peter Woods affirms that insurer is safe despite merger of parent company with Lloyds TSB.

Peter Wood, the founder of esure, has moved to quash speculation that the business could be a casualty of the merger between its parent company HBOS and Lloyds TSB.

Wood, who also founded Direct Line, said that it was “business as usual” for esure and its sister business, Sheila’s Wheels, despite last week’s unprecedented market turmoil that saw Lloyds step into to save HBOS as its share price plummeted, creating what will be one of the largest personal lines insurers in the UK.

Market sources speculated that the bank could dispose of esure because it is a non-core asset, in which Wood owns a controlling stake. He said in a statement: “The events of the last few days will have little or no effect on esure. esure is a very independent joint venture. We are a rapidly growing, separately authorised, separately capitalised and well-reserved top 10 motor insurer with excellent brands and prospects.

“I look forward to continuing to develop the company and will be happy to do this with the new shareholders if this comes about.”

HBOS and Lloyds TSB declined to comment on how the insurance arm of the newly-merged bank could be structured.

A Lloyds spokesman said: “It is still very, very early days, we are unable to provide information because nothing has been decided. The merger still has to be approved by the shareholders [of both institutions] and there is no time scale for that, though it is expected by the end of the year.”

HBOS was ranked 12th in the Insurance Times’ list of the Top 50 Insurers of 2007, while Lloyds TSB was 20th. If the bank retained both insurance businesses, they would be a major force on the High Street, with one of the UK’s largest household books.