Things are improving. Motor rates are up 18 per cent and while that is bad news for motorists, it is a more realistic reflection of the real cost of providing insurance which has soared now the NHS charges insurers for hospital bills. UK underwriting losses were cut by pounds 21m indicating that attempts to smarten up underwriting performance are coming through.
So far so good. The problem is what more to expect. The speed with which he has bedded down the merger justifies his Hurricane Bob nickname. He now expects year-on-year merger savings of pounds 320m, albeit at a higher one- off cost of pounds 380m.
Meanwhile UK general insurance rates have much further to move. CGU has to cope with a UK market in which no one is making money from underwriting. Nevertheless, its acquisition of Nuts Ohra in Holland and success in the privatised Polish pension market suggest its attempts to expand in other European markets are bearing fruit.
From here, the investment case for CGU rests on prospects it will emerge as one of the winners from further consolidation in the UK insurance industry. Royal & Sun Alliance has so far declined Mr Scott's overtures. But there is clearly a lot he could do with the group, given half a chance. Analysts expect operating profits of around pounds 922m and earnings of 47p this year. Notwithstanding the French debacle CGU, at 840p, up 11.5p yesterday, CGU is a long-term buy.