QBE may prefer to be the strong and silent type, but sometimes it's good to talk
QBE has taken a drubbing. First it put its loss-making personal lines book into run-off. Then much-trumpeted property boss Bernard Mageean left suddenly, following boardroom clashes. His property division had failed to achieve the ambitious growth plans set for it, and was handed over to chief underwriting officer Ash Bathia.
Now we reveal that QBE Europe – that is, minus the lucrative Lloyd’s business – saw its profit drop to £38.3m in 2010 from £122.6m in 2009. The plummeting figures have been blamed on investment returns not underwriting but, still, that’s got to hurt.
Since Mageean left, QBE has been in virtual lockdown. Bathia is running a new super-division – but what are his plans? Whatever they may be, QBE isn’t saying. Insurance Times once dubbed the Australian insurer the quiet man of UK GI. Perhaps now, it’s time to speak up.
• One business that’s not afraid to make a noise is Gallagher. As its negotiations with Heath Lambert enter their final days, the broker has just completed its acquisition of Woodbrook and is no doubt looking hard for other growth opportunities.
As its peers at Marsh and Aon could tell it, growth at that scale and pace doesn’t come easy, and there will be questions over management roles and other details to answer. That said, it seems there’s no stopping the Gallagher juggernaut: a new force in UK broking. IT