Norwich Union out of Saga frame - for now

Saga has decided to launch an initial private offering (IPO) rather than sell the business. It is understood Norwich Union had expressed an interest in acquiring the specialist insurer for the over-50s.

Roger De Haan, the owner and chairman of Saga, is set for a windfall of £1.5bn if the flotation of his company goes ahead.

Saga is planning an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange. No specific date has been set, according to a spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman said: "He [De Haan] wants to sell his stake in the business so he can get involved in other ventures and charities. He also felt that the company needed someone else to take it through to the next phase."

Saga is expected to announce its decision in the latter half of 2004.

Last year, Saga expressed an interest in expanding its operations in Europe, with particular focus on France, Germany and the Netherlands. The spokeswoman confirmed that this was still on the cards.

The company announced good results for the full year to January 2004. The company saw a 62.5% increase in pre-tax profit to £81.6m from the same period last year. Saga derives 90% of its profit from its general insurance business.