Towergate’s shock departure from the running leaves the field open for Alto Intermediary Group – but the deal could still go either way

One of the most talked about deals of the year came to a conclusion on Friday, but not the way many expected.

Towergate’s decision to pull out of the bidding for Cobra, announced on the London Stock Exchange last week, has seemingly left the way open for rival bidder and current Cobra chief Steve Burrows and his acquisition vehicle Alto Intermediary Group.

With the extended 28 May deadline looming, a lot of the talk at the Biba 2012 conference had been around the takeover, with the consensus among those attending that they would be surprised if the Towergate deal didn’t go through.

But only a day later the consolidator pulled the plug to leave Alto firmly in the driving seat.

After Towergate’s announcement, Cobra’s board came out to say talks were ongoing with Alto that could result in a firm offer.

Cobra’s team at Biba were giving little away and the deal looks like it could go either way, with the understanding that Towergate, if it had stayed in the race, would have put in a more attractive bid than its competitor.

Hiscox slams “feeble” ABI

Robert Hiscox came out all guns blazing last week, slamming the ABI for being “feeble” and focusing too heavily on corporate governance and life insurance.

Never one to mince his words, Hiscox, who is set to step down as chairman of Hiscox at the end of the year, also criticised the FSA’s approach to implementing Solvency II at London conference.

In response, the ABI insists it works hard on behalf of general insurers, but this is not the first time that the association has come under fire and when Hiscox speaks out it is usually with good reason.