Ex-teaboy Stephen Catlin in £2.6bn sale talks


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The Independent Online

Stephen Catlin has come a long way since arriving for his first day as an insurance company “tea boy” in a bright blue flared-trouser suit and wing collars.

Yesterday, the self-made multi-millionaire, who still runs his eponymous reinsurance giant as chief executive, admitted it was in talks to be taken over for £2.6bn by a US-listed rival called XL.

Now 60, Mr Catlin is left with a mere 1.7 per cent of the business, having progressively sold down his stake since the 1990s, but even that would give him an extra nest egg of a cool £44m if a takeover happens.

In 1973, having balked at the prospect of studying dentistry, Mr Catlin took a job in an insurance underwriter’s office at the Lloyd’s market, cutting his long hair before his first day. He worked his way up but failed to get high enough to make the fortunes he saw his superiors pocket when they sold the firm.

Seeing the riches that could be made, he set up his own firm with his then-deputy underwriter. That was 30 years ago. Catlin survived relatively unscathed during the Lloyd’s losses of the 1987 and 1990 storms and the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster.

It grew to become the biggest underwriting syndicate at Lloyd’s, floating on the stock market in 2004 at 350p, valuing the firm at £539m. XL is offering 699p a share, a price some analysts said was too low.