Loss of reputation is the largest risk facing UK big business, finds an Aon study examining risk and insurance trends.

The fear of reputation ruin has taken over from business interruption, which was 1999's greatest risk, and the threat of fire, which came top in 1997.

The study covered the UK's top 2,000 private and public companies.

Second came failure to change, which was in the list for the first time. Business interruption, product liability and computer crime were considered to be the third, fourth and fifth greatest risks.

However, only 21% of the organisations covered had quantified their brand value and reputation in financial terms, despite the fact that Aon estimates that business reputation can account for up to 75% of a company's value.

Aon Corporate Division client service managing director Deborah Dirkin said: “Brands alone can be valued in millions or even billions. Most of the other intangible assets – skills, knowledge, know-how, strategic alliances and relationships – are interdependent with an organisation's reputation.”

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