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Names face Barings payout

BELEAGUERED Lloyd's names - individual investors - face massive claims for the collapse of Barings, which has more than £230m in coverage.

The insurance market has underwritten policies of at least this amount on the merchant bank and its affiliates. Other policies, not yet reported to Lloyd's officials, could take the total even higher.

The re-insurance market could be exposed to claims underwritten elsewhere and law suits aimed at Barings' accountants and solicitors may also have to be paid out.

Two syndicates in particular have been identified as taking a leading role in underwriting Barings, which crashed three weeks ago with losses now estimated at close to £1bn.

Lloyd's syndicate 1007, managed by Spreckley Villiers Burnhope & Co, took the lead in underwriting a £100m bankers' blanket bond and a professional indemnity policy of the same magnitude for Barings plc, the group's holding company.

Syndicate 839, managed by Tower Managing Agents, is thought to have led much of the £30m package covering Baring Securities. It also had a small stake in the Barings plc policies.

The other two operating subsidiaries, Baring Asset Management and Baring Brothers & Co, are thought to have blanket, professional indemnity and directors' and officers' liability coverage.

Lloyd's insists that the worst-case scenario would be a loss of £100m as many of the policies are believed to overlap. Sources at Lloyd's said it is being treated as a single loss rather than the type of widespread catastrophe that hammered Lloyd's previously. However, a spokesman admitted that underwriters have not yet traced all the policies.

One of the questions hanging over the situation is whether ING, the Dutch bank that bought Barings for £1, will accept all the British institution's liabilities.

If not, the big factor will be the fate of Nick Leeson, the 28-year-old trader blamed for ruining the bank. Many of the policies are expected to pay out only if criminal intent can be proven.