Hastings Direct chairman Neil Utley in surprise bid

Hastings Direct chairman Neil Utley is bidding to buy stockbroker KBC Peel Hunt, the stockbroker from its Belgian bank parent, the Sunday Times reports.

KBC Peel Hunt is one of a number of assets put up for sale by the bank under orders from the European Commission as a punishment for receiving state aid.

Utley’s bid is believed to have been tabled through Hastings, although analysts say it is unlikely he would merge a stockbroker with the insurance business.