A possible trade sale of Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) is "all noise", group chief executive Andy Haste has insisted.

In recent weeks City analysts have named R&SA as a potential target. Zurich is the latest name to be thrown into the ring along with AXA and US venture capitalist Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst.

But Haste denied R&SA was in takeover talks. "Every time a merger or acquisition is rumoured in this sector our name comes up. It is a lot of noise. The Corvus deal a few months ago was not a deal. There were a few days of talk but no serious offer was ever placed on the table," he said.

Haste also confirmed R&SA's commitment to the broker market. "The death of the broker has been overplayed. We have used this channel effectively and have launched products for our intermediary partners."

He praised outgoing general insurance chief executive Duncan Boyle for bringing "bottomline profitability to our underwriting", and added that incoming Bridget McIntyre would "keep the continuity and execute the distribution strategy".