Hiscox moves to oust individual names

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The Independent Online
Another leading figure at Lloyd's of London has applied to the insurance market's ruling council for permission to remove individual directors from his syndicates.

The move by Robert Hiscox, former deputy chairman of Lloyd's, comes hard on the heels of a similar push to remove names by John Charman, the insurance market'sdeputy chairman.

Representatives of names are angry about the move by Hiscox Syndicates to oust them and are worried about the future role of sole traders in the 300-year-old insurance market.

The Lloyd's Names Association Working Party (LNAWP) said Mr Hiscox and Mr Charman were part of a concerted effort to rid the insurance market of its 10,000 remaining names and replace them with corporate capital. Chris Stockwell, chairman of LNAWP, said: "Mr Hiscox said names were sheep to be sheared. Now he seems intent on giving them their final haircut."

Mr Hiscox played down the significance of his application, saying no decision had been made on whether to buy out the names. He wanted approval from the Lloyd's council so his managed syndicates, which are in the throes of being merged, could proceed quickly should a buyout be decided.

"We do not want to be handcuffed. At the moment we have no such [buyout] intentions, but we do not rule it out in future," said Mr Hiscox, who looks after the affairs of syndicates 33, 625 and 52.

He said he was in two minds as to the advantages and disadvantages of names versus corporate capital. There were savings to be made if the names' system of annual ventures was abolished and it would be much easier to have one major shareholder rather than hundreds of small ones, he believed.

But, Mr Hiscox said: "Ultimately we feel even-handed about this. We could run our business more cheaply [without names] but then we would be putting an awful lot of [our] money at risk."

Mr Hiscox said that in his former capacity as deputy chairman he had introduced a range of policies that greatly benefited individual investors: "It was the value group which I chaired which introduced security of tenure for names and pre-emption rights, which led to the auctions of Lloyd's capacity."

The reference to sheep was made in a personal letter to a friend, Mr Hiscox said. He was quoting someone else and was pointing out that some names, like other investors, could make disastrous personal decisions.