New Cox chief executive to restore service levels as consortium takes charge

Recent accusations that Cox's service among brokers and clients has deteriorated will be the first challenge its new management will tackle.

Chief executive Neil Utley said that he was "disappointed" if standards had fallen so low after his departure. "You are only as good as the service you provide. When I was running the operation before, service was the priority. It will be again."

He admitted it was too late to resurrect Brokersure, the IT system Cox closed last December, though the new company would be looking for opportunities to establish a new system.

The Fieldstreet consortium, led by venture capitalist Duke Street with Englefield Capital and Utley, finally secured Cox at a cash offer of 92p a share last week.

Utley said the deal "took longer than expected" but said the "price was agreed weeks ago". The consortium paid £297.9m for his old company, but overall the deal cost £408m, the third largest private deal on the London Stock Exchange, he said.

The equity will be split between the investment houses and the management team. Equity Red Star head of underwriting Ray White takes an equity stake, as does Nick Potts, managing director of Cox's broking and insurance services division. A new non-executive chairman will be announced in the coming weeks, the company said.

Utley did not rule out rekindling talks with Highway Insurance, which Cox tried to acquire last year. "My strategy is to look for acquisitions in both the insurer and broker market in the future. But at the moment the deal is based on building the business profitably for a few years.

"I will now be working with Andrew Fisher during a handover period which will be conducted in a professional manner. There are no hard feelings," said Utley.