Tom Flack checks the online news.
Last week saw a rare, but very much welcome, boost for the industry in its ongoing battle for credibility with the public.
The long awaited publication of Sir Michael Pitt’s review into last year’s summer floods afforded insurers little blame and, as a result, a little time in the sun instead.
Insurers wasted no time in capitalising on the news, with a flurry of statements from the likes of AXA, Zurich, RSA, Hiscox and the ABI, urging the state to take swift action.
But with the review concluding that only 80% of its 92 recommendations could be met within the current budget, could the industry end up out of pocket, and hoist by its own petard?
In the meantime, there is more than enough pressure on the bottom line. The news that RSA had pulled the plug on its underwriting deal with Towergate-owned Fusion was the most popular story of the week, narrowly edging out the sensational return of Paul Meehan to the AXA fold.
In third place, Oval chief Phillip Hodson put paid to market rumours that Oval could be looking to sell, following the broker’s announcement that its mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity would be taking a summer holiday. How many of the eight acquisitions on hold that will still be available come the Autumn is anyone’s guess, although Chris Giles will probably have the best idea. Perkins Slade however – by both David Slade and Hodson’s own admission – is going nowhere.
One company that is on the block is the largest software player in the market, SSP. But considering the company’s AIM-listed stock is undervalued, despite a 50% rise since April, it seems unlikely that now is the right time to cash-in. Doubtless it will look to the £276m paid by Towergate for rival Open International nine months ago, as a benchmark.
Across the globe, but still on the M&A front, insurers and brokers continue to pile into the Middle East. Following the opening of its office in Dubai, Aon unveiled a specialised M&A unit to help put all that sovereign wealth to proper use.
Perhaps they could help bring the RBSI saga to a swifter conclusion, or at the very least a state of clarity. With the supposed bidding quartet unchanged for several weeks, the latest development saw Allstate appoint Lehman brothers as its advisors on the deal; a timely response to rival bidder Zurich’s boasts that Allstate’s pockets were insufficiently deep to mount a bid for the £7bn GWP division of the UK’s second largest bank.
The most read stories this week on insurancetimes.co.uk
1. RSA cancels underwriting deal with Towergates Fusion
Insurer serves six-month notice in wake of poor returns
2. Ex-VPL boss Meehan to make AXA comeback
Former co-chief to rejoin insurer after absence of just five months.
3. Oval suspends acquisition drive as economic conditions bite
Broker reports earnings up 50% over last financial year.
4. Insurance software giant in sale talks
SSP says discussions at an early stage.
5. Scottish parliament overturns Lords pleural plaques ruling
Insurers furious over proposed retrospective legislation.