Lloyd's is hunting for a new chairman. It is the second time in the past 12 months that the market has searched for a new leader.

The renewed search has been prompted by Sax Riley's intention to retire from the post at the end of this year.

In 1997, Riley was appointed chairman of Sedgwick Group and two years later became a director of Marsh and McLennan Companies.

He became Lloyd's chairman in January 2001 when Max Taylor resigned after a three-year term. Last April, the Council of Lloyd's, which is the ruling body of the market, said it had asked him to stay on for a longer period.

Lloyd's spokesman Adrian Beeby said at the time Riley had just been appointed to head up a high-level working party to review the market's future strategy.

He said Riley's chairmanship had been extended so he could continue to drive forward the implementation of its recommendations.

Critics suggested Riley retained the post because Lloyd's had failed to find a replacement. International headhunter Russell Reynolds was appointed to find a new chairman and it identified a number of possible candidates.

Paul Myner, the former head of fund management giant Gartmore, was interviewed for the job. Senior sources have also said a shortlist of two high-profile figures was drawn up, but both individuals were thought to have refused to let their names go foward.

Beeby confirmed a search had taken place to find a replacement for Sax Riley.

"We were looking during early and mid-2001, but suspended the search," he said. "We will be looking again this year."

The chairmanship has traditionally been regarded as one of the most prestigious jobs in the City. Last year, it was changed to a part-time position.

When Taylor headed up the 300-year-old market in 2000 he received £430,000 for the year and a contribution towards his pension of 37.5% of his salary. He was also given a £50,000 bonus and benefits of £35,000.

Riley, who represents Lloyd's three days a week, earns £200,000 per annum. Benefits, including car allowance, life assurance, long-term disability and medical insurances, amount to £41,000.

The chairman must technically be a member of Lloyd's and is voted for by the council.