Tom Flack rounds up the week on the web

Despite several weeks of relative quiet on the acquisition front, two mega-deals – one ongoing, one aborted – continue to hold insurance readers spellbound.

As the first round of the RBSI sweepstakes concludes, the list of buyers continues to thin. While the extension of the initial deadline for the first round of bidding caught few by surprise – it was suggested that potential buyers wanted a closer look at the books – less clear is how much the interested parties are willing to offer for the £7bn GWP division.

One source suggested that an offer equating to any more than a multiple of eight times RBSI’s earnings, slightly less than £5.5bn, would be excessive given prevailing conditions in the UK motor market.

Visitors to were glued to the latest updates, which included Generali ruling itself in and out of the running either side of the weekend.

With Chinese life insurer Ping An backing away from a bid, and AIG hamstrung by its having to raise tens of billions in capital to shore up its balance sheet (ironic given this was the rationale behind RBSI’s proposed sale) Zurich’s position is steadily strengthening.

The other deal that hasn’t happened, between QBE and IAG, took another twist when IAG chief Michael Hawker tendered his resignation after seven years with the company.

Broker Giles made its weekly mark on the web, this time in the Westcountry, with its purchase of the Gloucestershire-based Professional Indemnity Group. It is the broker’s sixth acquisition since being handed half a billion in funds from private equity investor Charterhouse in March.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the China earthquake and the cyclone in Burma, reported that Swiss Re was in advanced discussions with a quartet of Asian governments over the creation of a catastrophe pool, with pay-outs potentially reaching up to half a billion dollars.The world’s largest reinsurer said a deal, which would grant governments instant access to funds to manage disasters, could be concluded within weeks.

Also on the road to conclusion were the Treasury’s proposed amendments to the Lloyd’s Act, which yielded a flurry of traffic on – although Lloyd’s brokers have remained uncharacteristically tightlipped on the subject so far.

Popular too was the news that the ABI was taking the government to task over the cumbersome intricacies of its tax regime, and its opportunistic attack on the industry for its handling of the floods following reports in the national press that thousands of families remained out of their homes, almost a year on from the events of last summer.


The most read stories this week on

1. Generali pulls out of RBS race

First round of bidding ends today.

2. RBS extends deadline for insurance division

Suitors request more time to evaluate bids.

3. Members approve radical Lloyd’s proposals

Lloyd’s broker monopoly set to end.

4. IAG chief resigns in QBE bid wake

Chief operating officer Michael Wilkins

promoted with immediate effect.

5. Giles moves into Westcountry with acquisition

Aust-based PI broker bought.