Motor insurer Cox admits to bid approaches

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The Independent Online

Cox Insurance, the Lloyds of London motor insurer, has received bid approaches and is in early talks that could lead to a £300m-plus takeover of the company.

Cox Insurance, the Lloyds of London motor insurer, has received bid approaches and is in early talks that could lead to a £300m-plus takeover of the company.

The talks are being conducted with a number of parties, including a consortium led by Neil Utley, Cox's former chief executive who was ousted five months ago, industry sources say. Reports said Mr Utley would have to offer a sizeable premium of about 100p a share, valuing the group at £313m. On Friday, the shares closed at 65p, giving Cox at market value of £204m.

Mr Utley is reported to have secured backing from the venture capital firm Englefield Capital and the private equity arm of Lloyds TSB. At Cox he was replaced by Andrew Fischer, the former head of Royal Bank of Scotland's private banking unit.

Confirming weekend reports that it was in takeover talks, the company said it had "received approaches as a result of which it is in preliminary discussions that may or may not lead to an offer for the company at a material premium to the recently traded share price". In September, the insurer reported pre-tax profits of £13.7m for the first half, down from £28.3m in the same period a year earlier, after significant writedowns related to two of its businesses.

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