Tom Flack reviews the week on insurancetimes.co.uk
While the consolidators took something of a well-earned, post capital gains tax break, a frenzied week of resignations saw readers flock to insurancetimes.co.uk in their droves.
It will come as little surprise that the story that generated the most attention was the sudden departure of AXA UK chief, Peter Hubbard.
The news that he had tendered his resignation with immediate effect proved the fourth most viewed story of the year, close behind CCV’s acquisition of Lockton’s retail divisions, AXA’s acquisition of SBJ, and the tragic death of IIB director general, Andrew Paddick.
The subsequent and equally sudden defection of AXA’s markets managing director, Mark Cliff, to Fortis, as revealed on insurancetimes.co.uk, was similarly seized on by readers online.
It also means that four of the year’s top eight stories have featured AXA; a picture similar to the first quarter of last year, when the French insurer dominated the headlines with its purchase of Smart & Cook, Layton Blackham and Stuart Alexander.
This year, however, has presented something of a contrast, with the company stealing the limelight for subtracting as well as adding. The news of the departures of co-chiefs Paul Meehan and Chris Blackham from its broking subsidiary, Venture Preference – in addition to the defection of group finance chief Laurent Matras to Groupama – still feature high on the year’s most read list.
“The Erinaceous saga has ended. But the story of the insurance division, EIS, will continue, writes Tom Flack.
Mondays announcement that the property services group that once stood on the cusp of the FTSE 250 was being placed into administration was about as surprising as its share price was low (1.5p to be exact). The creation of a new holding company for the insurance division, by the groups banks, means that there could be a strong future for it.
The confirmation that Zurich had tabled an unsuccessful bid in excess of 100m pounds for the company means that the chances of it being sold now are next to nothing.
The banks decision is they like the business, and they want to support it, says group chief Tim Redburn. This should draw a line under the speculation.
Certainly chief of EIS, Leslie Goodman will be relieved that the criticisms aimed in his direction have been dealt a decisive blow.
What we did with EIS and the rest of the group was interdependent, Re
Sandwiched between the news of Hubbard and Cliff was the inevitable conclusion of the saga of property services group, Erinaceous.
The group’s announcement that it had gone into administration achieved an expected glut of traffic, presumably as readers searched for clues as to the fate of its insurance division, EIS.
As Insurance Times went to press, the news that sale talks with Zurich had collapsed and new holding company Caley, created by its bankers, was receiving similarly high levels of traffic.
Other popular stories included: the award of chartered status to Leeds broker Marshall Wooldridge; Lark’s revenues topping the £20m mark after it bought niche property broker Grosvenor Court Insurance Services; Allianz’s declaration that it could look to up its stake in Oval to as much as a quarter of the business; and the news that CCV had added two more brokers to its burgeoning portfolio.
The most read stories this week on insurancetimes.co.uk:
1. Hubbard out at AXA
AXA loses chief executive and markets managing director.
2. Erinaceous goes into administration
Sale of insurance division set to conclude.
3. Mark Cliff is latest AXA departure
Markets managing director follows former chief executive Peter Hubbard in leaving insurer.
4. CCV makes 30th acquisition
Company buys two more brokers.
5. Oval turns to Allianz to fund war chest
Broker prepared to sell up to 25 per cent stake to insurer as it seeks more cash.