Lloyd's motor market consolidated further this week after Limit, owner of the Ensign syndicate, announced it was acquiring Torch, owner of Syndicate 877, for £10 million.

The offer price of 62p for each share, has been unanimously recommended by the Torch board, and shareholders representing 88.2% of the share capital.

The two syndicates will be merged for the Year 2001 account. They currently have a combined capacity of about £97.9m.

Ensign active underwriter John Neal will assume the role of active underwriter for the Torch syndicate as soon as possible and subject to Lloyd's approval.

About two-thirds of the Torch £45m book is commercial and fleet motor, and the remaining third is private vehicle. Limit chairman Jonathan Agnew said: "The acquisition of Torch presents us with an unique opportunity to combine two Lloyd's motor syndicates which specialise in underwriting commercial and private motor fleets.

"The merged syndicate would be one of the leading fleet motor underwriters in Lloyd's, ideally placed to take advantage of recent increases in premium rates and of the economies achievable from combining the two operations."

About 80% of Torch shares were spread evenly between two other Lloyd's managing agents, BRIT and SVB, and Equitable Life.

The deal also includes acquisition of Torch's managing agency, Bates Cunningham, which will become part of Limit Underwriting, Lloyd's largest managing agency.

The two directors, David Bates and Philip Cunningham, each have a five per cent stake in Torch.

Limit was recently formed from the merger of managing agents Jansen Green and Bankside Services, and manages £750m of capacity with a market capitalisation of £420m.