December 9, 2010

Bluefin chief exec Stuart Reid is busy turning down the covers for his new boss Amanda Blanc.

Reid reckons she’ll make a refreshing change from the people he’s had to work with at Axa up to now. Seems they’ve been somewhat wanting in the appetite department.

Clearly excited at the prospect of starting with a Blanc sheet, Reid’s unbridled lust for conquest is unlikely to take his new boss by surprise.

“I’m not speaking for her,” he clarified this week to Post Magazine, but “M&A is very exciting at the moment” and “prices are relatively low.”

“I am sure one of the first questions we will discuss,” he predicts uncannily, “is what is the M&A activity going to be like in next 12-24 months.

Ms Blanc meanwhile has professed herself “very pleased” to be rejoining Axa after stints with Group Armagh and latterly Towergate, and is looking forward to the chance to “deploy my experience to the full.”

What prompted her to jump ship, abandoning her chance to profit personally from SS Towergate’s anticipated flotation a couple of years hence?

Writing in Insurance Times, Celtic West wonders whether she’s lost faith in the seaworthiness of Towergate in particular and perhaps Consolidator class vessels in general.

Did she lack “belief in Towergate’s financial juggling ability” during adverse economic conditions? Was she worried insurers may eventually prevail in their desire to pay consolidators smaller commissions?  Was she concerned about entrepreneurs who’d sold out to Towergate coming back into the market once their restrictive covenants run out? You may draw your own conclusions.

The consolidators’ future is up in the air, West declares. It could still turn out OK, he adds. But, he concludes, “it looks like Blanc wasn’t willing to wait to find out.”


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