March 13, 2009

Uncertainty continues to shroud future developments at “successful and experienced provider of motor insurance products to the intermediary market” Chaucer.

On Wednesday (11 March 2009), Post Magazine reported that Lloyd’s insurer Novae had withdrawn from merger talks ‚ with an unnamed source suggesting talks had broken down over “Chaucer’s asset book – especially those risks emanating from Chaucer’s current hedge fund positions.”

Insurance Times, however, believes that a sale may still be on the cards. Chaucer confirmed it was in discussions as of Wednesday with a number of other parties over a potential sale of the business.

Times’ own undisclosed sources suggested that one of the parties in question is Pamplona Capital Management, a fund run by Russian financier Alex Knaster.

Novae had originally proposed a merger last month on a ‘nil-premium, all-share’ basis. Brit Insurance is also believed to have made overtures, along with fellow Bermudians Argo Group, who recently snapped up Chaucer’s main rival Heritage.

Announcing its preliminary 2008 results last week, Chaucer Holdings PLC reported pre-tax losses of £26.2m (compared with a profit of £89.4m in 2007) driven primarily by an investment loss of £71.0m. But the company saw improved prospects ahead with hardening rates in the catastrophe-exposed property, energy and marine markets and in the UK motor market

“Whan that Aprile with his shoures soote the droughte of March hath perced to the roote,” wrote Geoffrey Chaucer back in the fourteenth century. A famous line of middle English poetry, which, sadly, has naff all to do with this story.


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