Speculation increases on strong half year results.

Speculation over a takeover bid for RSA has continued to mount after it published robust half-year results.

The insurer’s suitors are believed to include companies previously linked to a bid for Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance arm, such as Zurich, Allianz and QBE. The sale of the RBS division, which includes Direct Line and Churchill, now looks unlikely.

A leading insurance analyst said: “RSA has been through its cost reduction, it has not been aggressive in a soft market and its standing is pretty strong.

“If you were targeting an insurance company, that would be the one to go for.”

RSA declined to comment.

A sale would provide an exit for Andy Haste, its group chief executive, who has been linked with a move to a bank.

RSA reported a UK operating profit of £230m for the first half of the year last week. Although this was down £2m year-on-year, the insurer had been hit by a number of large losses and gross written premiums rose 1% to £1.4bn, despite a tough stance on ratings. Banking group Citigroup said the UK underwriting results were in line with expectations and the rate increases were well ahead of the industry average.

Meanwhile, as predicted by Insurance Times, RBS has stuck to the £7bn asking price for its insurance arm after posting a £403m operating profit for the first half, up from £258m in the same period last year. The only bidder, US insurer Allstate, is believed to have offered a maximum of £6bn, making a sale unlikely.

RBS’s finances have improved since it launched the auction in April, following a successful rights issue, the £1bn sale of its stake in Tesco Personal Finance to Tesco and the disposal of Angel Trains.