While the market’s attention was focused firmly on Insurance Times’s glittering awards ceremony, Towergate and AXA snuck out the biggest announcement since Philippe Maso left these shores

And what an announcement it was: Amanda Blanc, heir apparent to the Towergate empire, jumping ship, even with an IPO on the horizon. And to AXA of all places – not everyone’s idea of a lifeboat. Since then, there’s been frantic spin and counter spin from all sides: Towergate’s still smiling (yeah, yeah); the folks at AXA and Bluefin are thrilled to have a new boss; world peace is just days away; and so on.

Towergate’s critics have been salivating at such juicy news, quick to assume that Blanc’s motive was a lack of faith in the consolidator business model. But as we report this week, she’s held on to her shares, so stands to lose nothing in the event of a Towergate flotation. The unending “will they, won’t they” of the flotation itself might have been more of a reason for her departure, as might the uncertainty created by the competition between Towergate’s leaders – Blanc, Clive Nathan and Tim Johnson. You can only spend so long waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – and that pot’s shrunk considerably.

For Blanc, the hard work is just beginning. She has a big job at Bluefin and will need its senior team on side. No doubt the broking element of her new job clinched it for Blanc – AXA had to fight for her and it’s unlikely another candidate would have got the dual role. But she will still need an unremitting focus on the battered commercial business.

And in the midst of all the tutting over Towergate, let’s not forget this is a great move for a well-respected industry leader and a coup for a top UK insurer. Congratulations, both. IT