Tom Broughton, Editor.
Fortis UK’s general insurance operation is a well run, solid business owned by an unstable bank. Its chief executive Barry Smith has tackled the problem head on and acted to reassure the company’s clients and partners – much as Lex Baugh has done at AIG UK. Smith has a reputation for providing stability and continuity – and that instils confidence in the market.
Fortis’ predicament also bears some similarity to the plight of Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance, although the Scottish bank has faced a disproportionate amount of scrutiny thanks to its well known brands.
Fortis UK has, so far, avoided the spotlight. The business has predicted premium growth and its management team has reiterated the message that the business is on track.
But the Fortis international insurance division has taken a hit.
Its third-quarter results showed a net loss of more than £22m and there are indications that worse is to come, with parts of the group to be sold off. This volatile activity has turned the attention back to UK shores. Venture capitalists have been queuing up to help Smith and his management team cut the apron strings from its parent, even if that help is not wanted right now.
A number of carriers, such as AXA, are also understood to be interested in divorcing the business from its dysfunctional parent. The official line from Fortis is that it doesn’t comment on industry rumour and speculation, but you would be hard pushed to blame Smith and his management team for such a plot, wouldn’t you?
This issue marks the end of Insurance Times as you know it. But do not fear. From next week, we will be unveiling a new-look magazine that builds on everything you love about Insurance Times. We plan to expand on our position as the market’s leading weekly publication focusing on intermediaries and insurers.
We are investing in our production values and we will bring you additional insight and expert analysis from the leading voices across the sector, as well as continuing to keep you up to date with the latest news both within the pages of the magazine and online at www.insurancetimes.co.uk.
Watch this space.