Up to 20 Cox Insurance underwriting staff are facing an uncertain future after their jobs were axed following the sale of its marine book of business to Euclidian Underwriting.

Euclidian boss, James Truscott, said his managers were talking to some of the former Cox staff, but he thought it unlikely that his firm would be in a position to take on any more than four additional staff.

He said the deal to acquire Cox's book of marine business was a happy accident.

“Michael Dawson [Cox chief executive] and I had a chat. He said: ‘This business doesn't really suit us' and I said: ‘well, it suits us'.”

Truscott added: “Cox has gone down the dotcom and retail route and while we are doing things in that area, they are looking at it as a key function. But we still think we can make a margin on their marine book.”

Dawson confirmed Cox's plans for a “number of redundancies” but said “no more than 20” would be affected by the sale.

He said: “Obviously it is very serious for the industry, we are making redundancies but at the same time it will mean we are able to create additional volume long-term for the group.”

He said low rates in the marine market had led to the move.

“It is the right decision for Cox, but for the individuals concerned one is always disappointed,” said Dawson.

The sale of the unit to Euclidian was announced during Cox's interim results (see p 12) which showed a pre-tax loss of £600,000.