Cullum to become non-exec chairman in Utley consortium

Peter Cullum and Duke Street Capital have emerged as the final two participants of Neil Utley's consortium bidding to buy Cox Insurance.

Cullum, the executive chairman of Towergate and chairman of Folgate is understood to have agreed to become non-executive chairman of Cox following a successful bid.

He is also understood to have agreed to take a private equity stake in the business.

A source close to Cox said: "Cullum has agreed the role on a private basis. As we understand it this will not be connected to his work at Towergate or Folgate."

Insurance Times has also discovered Duke Street Capital is the third major equity house to be backing the ex-Cox chief executive's bid. The other participants are Englefield Capital and Lloyds TSB's private equity arm.

Press speculation about a bid over the weekend saw Cox's share price jump 30% to over 85p.

But as Insurance Times went to press, the share price was still well below £1, the price per share likely to be offered in any bid.

The success of any deal will centre on the decision of venture capitalists Warburg Pincus and Palamon to sell. Between them, the two companies own around 33% of Cox.

In a statement, Cox said: "In response to recent press reports, Cox Insurance Holdings plc announces that it has received approaches as a result of which it is in preliminary discussions that may or may not lead to an offer for the company at a material premium to the recently traded share price."

Observers played down speculation that investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) was also interested in Cox. KKR refused to confirm whether it was interested in making a bid.