The week on

AIG continued to dominate the headlines in cyberspace this week, as the implications of its rapid unravelling became clearer. The statement by Lex Baugh, the UK chief executive, published on on Tuesday, received a record number of hits as brokers looked for reassurance – which he was eager to give.

Baugh told the market the UK business would not be sold, as it was core to the wider group, and thanked brokers for their support. “We have found them to be very considered in their response to the changing circumstances in which we find ourselves,” he said, rather surprisingly.

The rest of the Most Read list was once again full of AIG stories, as monitored the developments step by step. Second on the list was AIG’s plans to draw up a list of assets for a quick sale and third was Bluefin’s order to suspend new business with the insurer, now rescinded.

Elsewhere on the web was news that Allianz had followed the example of NU and Zurich in cuttings jobs – albeit a relatively modest 170. The insurer is restructuring its retail division into three sales and distribution teams.

Half-year results from Lloyd’s, published on Thursday, caused a flurry of activity on websites including BBC News, Timesonline and The Telegraph, as well as . The market was quick to defend an almost 50% drop in year-on-year profit to £949m, pointing out that it was outperforming its peers and weathering the economic storm relatively well. As the BBC reported: “Lloyd’s chairman Lord Levene said: ‘We have reported a strong performance in extremely challenging circumstances.’ Lloyd’s said the costs of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in the US was likely to have an impact on earnings.”

There was intense media speculation about the exposure of Lloyd’s to AIG, but chief executive Richard Ward was quick to draw a line. He told the Financial Times that Lloyd’s was monitoring the situation, but no more than with any other business, adding: “AIG is still writing business and it is in everyone’s interest that AIG continues to trade forward and remains a healthy competitor.”


The most read stories this week on

1. AIG UK boss breaks silence
Lex Baugh moves to reassure the market.

2. AIG to draw up sale list
Insurers shares rise 43%.

3. Bluefin suspends new business with AIG
Chief executive of AXA-owned broker says position is under daily review.

4. Brokers poised to pull out of AIG
as it fights for life
UK industry watches closely as clients fear a repeat of Independent Insurance fiasco and Wall Street trembles.

5. Fed steps in to rescue AIG
$85bn package sees US government take 80% equity stake in insurer.