Tory treasurer and City figures link up for Lloyd's venture

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The Independent Online

The Conservative Party's treasurer, Lord Marland of Odstock, has joined forces with a team of top City figures, including Icap CEO Michael Spencer, to invest in the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

The consortium, which also includes hedge fund manager Crispin Odey as well as Carphone Warehouse's co-founder David Ross, said yesterday that they planned to take their first step into the market through the acquisition of a small investment vehicle, Insurance Capital Partners (ICP).

Lord Marland, who is also a former chief executive of the insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson, has extensive experience working in the London insurance market. He was made a life peer earlier this year.

ICP was launched last December by the boutique fund management outfit CBS General Partner, with a view to providing direct access to the Lloyd's market. The firm launched the vehicle to take advantage of rising premiums in the wake of last autumn's unusually severe hurricane season.

Unlike other specialist insurance funds, ICP invests directly and exclusively in the Lloyd's market. Investors that buy shares in the listed Lloyd's entities, such as Hiscox and Wellington, are also left exposed to other parts of the business outside Lloyd's.

Having deployed sufficient capital to support £75m of capacity last year, the new owners have said they plan to increase capacity to £100m for 2007. They would not disclose how much they had paid for the company,

Commenting on the deal yesterday, Lord Marland said: "This transaction follows my tradition of backing strong management teams and investing with friends. This vehicle provides an opportunity for investors to participate in a managed portfolio of insurance investments."

ICP said in July that it had planned to raise £100m by listing itself on London's Alternative Investment Market (Aim). However, it later scrapped the plan due to volatile market conditions.

Mr Odey is one of the City's best-known hedge fund managers, and owns his fund management firm, Odey Asset Management. Mr Spencer, who runs the inter-dealer broker Icap, is reported to be the City's richest man, with a personal fortune of £600m.

Mr Ross's main areas of expertise lie outside the financial services sector. As well as being a founder and the current deputy chairman of Carphone Warehouse, he is also chairman of National Express, and holds non-executive directorships on the boards of Trinity Mirror, Big Yellow Group and Cosalt.