Danny Walkinshaw reviews the week on the web.

Coverage of the Insurance Times Commercial Lines Forum: Decoding a Competitive Future sent online traffic soaring this week. Visitors to Insurancetimes.co.uk were keen to view all the reaction from the forum, which showcased a number of industry big hitters.

A gallery of exclusive photographs taken at the forum was the most popular item of the week. Philippe Maso, chief executive

of AXA UK, and Justin Urquhart Stewart, marketing director at Seven Investment Management, were just two of the faces snapped at the event, which also featured senior figures from the FSA, loss adjusters and brokers.

The star interview between Andy Homer, the Towergate supremo, and Barry Smith, chief executive of Fortis Insurance, was one of the highlights. Smith quizzed Homer on a number of market issues as well as on life inside the consolidator. Homer detailed how he and Towergate executive chairman Peter Cullum were deep in thought over the succession of the business, revealing the ideal candidates to take over, as well as plans to float the business further down the line. The coverage of the interview was the second most read item of the week.

Video highlights of the interview were also made available on Insurancetimes.co.uk, and have proved popular with users who can watch Smith take on the role of Sir Michael Parkinson.

An Insurancetimes.co.uk exclusive analysis, Backstage at the forum, reproduced below, provided further insight into the discussion and was another popular item.

Also at the forum, a regulation update from the FSA on Solvency II was met with caution by AXA’s Maso, who warned that the regulator’s plan to overhaul regulation of European insurers should be overhauled itself in the wake of the global financial turmoil. He was responding to a presentation by Tim Edwards from the FSA’s wholesale and prudential policy team.

Reports surrounding the future of Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance division, RBSI, continued to attract interest. The latest development came when CVC Capital, a private equity house, was reported to be in talks with RBSI over taking a 51% stake in the business.

The bank had originally ruled out private equity bidders for the insurance arm, which includes household names such as Direct Line and Churchill. It is now expected to accept less than the £7bn asking price it originally wanted for the business.

FT.com reported that Fred Watt, chief operating officer of CVC and former finance director of Royal Bank of Scotland, is leading the bid to buy the firm. It also said reinsurance giant Swiss Re was holding talks with CVC over joining its bid.

Finally, the cost to Lloyd’s insurers of the damage caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike hit the headlines worldwide. Lloyd’s said it faced a £1.3bn bill, while Amlin estimated its losses at $285m (£167m), Omega calculated $34m and Brit Insurance projected losses totalling $98m.

The most read stories on Insurancetimes.co.uk:

1. Commercial Lines Forum: in pictures
All sections of the industry were represented at this high-profile City event organised by Insurance Times.

2. Homer lays out Towergate strategy in exclusive interview with Smith
Towergate chief is quizzed by Fortis chief in debate televised live from the Commercial Lines Forum.

3. CVC Capital eyes RBSI deal
Private equity set to take controlling stake in Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance arm.

4. Hodson: Oval will not squander war chest
Broker boss says he will be selective in spending new 115m pounds debt facility.

5. ‘Solvency II must change’
AXA chief issues warning on European accounting rules.

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