Chief exec would prefer company to retain independence

Lloyd’s insurer Hardy is open to sale offers, but only at the right price. Chief executive Barbara Merry said she wants the company to remain independent, but it is her duty to recommend interest to shareholders.

However, she fired off a warning to any potential bidders, saying the business would not go cheaply.

Merry said: “The bottom line is that we want to stay independent, and we want to show what we can do.

“But, at a price: our job is to get the best deal we possibly can for our shareholders. I think this business is incredibly valuable. I think we have some really talented people here and, whatever happens, we’re not going cheaply.

“But if somebody wants to buy Hardy, and they pay a very full price that we would feel pleased to recommend to the shareholders, then obviously that’s different.”

“However, we’re not there,” Merry added, “because everybody also wants to get something for nothing. But we’re not going cheap.”

Merry also considered it a possibility that the UK could follow the USA by tightening taxes on reinsurer transactions. Congress is currently debating proposals to close tax loopholes for foreign-based reinsurers.

Merry said: “Were there to be some legislation in the USA that actually formalised what is being talked about, it is quite likely that the UK would do something similar, in which case we might lose our tax benefits. That would be a shame.

“But the point is that we would have earned shareholders more than they would have had otherwise for the period we have been there earning tax benefits.”

She added: “Anyway, we are part of the Bermuda market now, accessing risks out of the USA. So it is a perfectly good place to be.”

Click here to read the full interview with Barbara Merry.