What’s going to be the talk of the town at Biba next week? As the industry ups sticks and heads east to London’s ExCeL centre, expect to see these hot issues on everybody’s lips.
1. The election, of course. By next week, we should finally know who’s in power – and the markets will have given their all-important verdict.
2. Commercial rates: yep, they’re still flat, nothing’s changed since last year, except this time round, no one’s even trying to lead the way on lifting them.
3. So it’s lucky that personal lines are showing a few green shoots of recovery – particularly the personal motor market which, casualties in its wake, is finally starting to harden. Small wonder, then, that the major insurers are piling back into broker personal lines in a big way.
4. Meanwhile, among the brokers, the chatter will be all about who’s buying whom. Could some of the deals be sealed in the bar-rooms and restaurants of the East End, particularly given Towergate’s return to the scene with its £665m corporate bond refinancing?
5. Making the deal is rarely the end of the story. This week, we revealed that Eliot Powell has quit Oval just two years after selling his business to the consolidator. Many more one-time vendors are looking to go it alone, now that their restrictive covenants have expired – and Biba is the perfect opportunity to gauge potential support.
6. RBS Insurance has just scrapped an eye-watering 2,000 jobs and posted a £50m loss for the first quarter of the year. Would you buy shares in it?
7. What’s happening with the sales of Kwik-Fit and Provident? As we report this week, Provident’s £30m loss means it isn’t looking good, and Kwik-Fit has gone strangely quiet. Any insurer types with deep pockets might be taking a close look at the bargain basement this Biba.
8. RSA and Aviva returned to growth in the first quarter of 2010: will their new pals the brokers be flocking to their stalls to say hi?
9. Or will they be heading to Ace and Chubb which, word has it, are the ones to watch this year? IT