Benfield becomes vulnerable

BENFIELD Group shares bounced back this week as takeover rumours of the reinsurer returned .

The shares were trading as high as 271p on Tuesday, supported by revived talk that, following David Spiller's resignation, the company is more vulnerable to a takeover approach.

Spiller, the chief executive of Benfield's International division, will step down at the end of the month, after 26 years with the group. Last week Benfield chief executive Grahame Chilton said Spiller had "decided that his future lies elsewhere".

Benfield has been associated with bid rumours over the past few years, and dealers speculated if Spiller re-emerges at a rival broker, such as Willis or Jardine Lloyd Thompson, his appointment would further fuel takeover talk.

Lloyd's insurers were also in focus as Typhoon Haitang hit eastern Taiwan on Monday at category 4 intensity. Hiscox was trading at around 167p, Brit Insurance Holdings was at 87p and Chaucer was worth 62p.

Professor Mark Saunders, lead scientist and project manager of website Tropical Storm Risk, said Hurricane Emily was approaching landfall in eastern Mexico, making this season "the first since 1916 to feature two major Atlantic hurricanes before 1 August - the traditional start of the hurricane season".

' Yvette Essen is stock market reporter and insurance correspondent for The Daily Telegraph