You know the summer’s coming to an end when the AXA rumours start up again, and what a belter it was this week

There was widespread speculation that Bluefin could be on the market – yes, that old chestnut.

It’s been a tortuous few months for the French insurer. First, there was the to-ing and fro-ing over the future of group boss Nicolas Moreau, which, after AXA’s vociferous and indignant protestations to the contrary, did indeed see him return to Paris. There was similar speculation over UK boss Maso’s future role, and now the Bluefin question has reared its ugly head again – both strenuously denied, but remember what they say about the boy who cried wolf. And all this set against the context of continually plummeting numbers.

It’s time to get on the front foot: AXA needs to stop issuing denials and start sending messages to the market. Its numbers are never going to improve when brokers and clients are clueless about its strategy – or sceptical as to whether it has a strategy at all. In the meantime, here are a few wagers: Bluefin chief exec Stuart Reid to lead an MBO sooner rather than later; Maso to stay at the UK helm but take on a wider European role too; and Paul Meehan to emerge as boss of commercial lines within the next couple of weeks.

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