The appointment of an outsider as deputy chief executive has raised eyebrows

Richard Pryce’s appointment as QBE’s new deputy chief executive could prove to be more significant in more ways than one.

Luring the London insurance market stalwart of 30 years from ACE is undoubtedly a coup for QBE, but the move raises big questions about the insurer’s strategy.

After its acquisition of Brit’s regional UK business earlier this month, some shake-up of management was thought likely. But the changes were expected to be internal rather than anyone being brought in from outside, as the company is already top heavy.

What sort of message does this send to those senior managers who thought they were in line for a shot at the job?

Meanwhile, as far as ACE is concerned, the move should not have too much of a detrimental effect.

As a global company with a large pool of talent to draw on from different markets, the insurer only had to look on its own doorstep for a successor.

New incumbent David Robinson boasts more than 20 years in the industry, including eight with ACE, and is highly thought of in the sector, not least by chairman Andrew Kendrick, who believes he is the right man to drive the retail business forward in the UK and Ireland.

Another experienced appointment is Pat Drinan as regional senior vice-president of accident and health for Europe, Middle East and Africa, who will also assume ACE’s life insurance operations in the region.

Spanish insurer bids for Groupama business

Fellow insurer Groupama has also been attracting considerable interest in recent weeks, most recently today with Spanish insurer Grupo Catalana Occidente making a non-binding bid for its Spanish business.

The bid would certainly be looked at closely by Groupama, which is seeking to raise €300m-€400m (£246m-£328m) for its Spanish unit as the company aims to sell several assets after its exposure to the eurozone debt crisis that contributed to its €1.8bn loss in 2011.