11/02/2009

The FSA has given its approval for the management buyout of the former UK insurance businesses of Insurance Australia Group (IAG) first announced in December, reports Insurance Times.

The MBO includes Bexhill-on-Sea intermediary Hastings Direct and underwriting operation Advantage both bought by IAG in 2006 as it sought to reduce its dependence on the Australian market. Since then the UK businesses have proved a drag on IAG’s ailing finances and the group has been keen to offload them for any reasonable consideration since July last year.

Its new owners plan to invest in “revitalising the Hastings Direct brand.” Could this mean ditching Harry Hastings for a mascot styled on a more successful British wartime leader‚ Churchill perhaps, ah no‚ or maybe switching allegiance to the winner of the famous battle whose year the last four digits of the Hastings phone number commemorates? King Harold, after all, was a confirmed pedestrian.

According to chief executive Edward “The Confessor” Fitzmaurice, Hastings will now become a leading independent mass market insurance firm, offering products underwritten by a panel including Axa, Equity Insurance, Chaucer, Markerstudy, Premier, Provident, Highway and Hastings sister company Advantage Insurance ‚ with other underwriters set to follow. Direct brands insure.co.uk, insurepink.co.uk and insureblue.co.uk will be positioned separately from Hastings Direct and targeted at their own market sectors.

Fitzmaurice confessed regally: “We are delighted to receive regulatory approval for the management buyout of Hastings Direct and Advantage Insurance Company, securing the future of the businesses for our staff and over 400,000 customers.” IAG paid £140m for Hastings and Advantage in 2006.


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