Underwriter to float on AIM

Hardy Underwriting Group, a Lloyd's of London underwriter, will join the Alternative Investment Market today in a pounds 10.65m flotation.

While a few of the larger underwriters have stock market quotations, Hardy is unusual because it underwrites just one syndicate which is known as 382.

Peter Hardy, chief executive of Hardy Underwriting Group, said the listing could pave the way for other small underwriters. "I'm sure a lot of people are watching us. We were rather surprised we were first," he said.

Mr Hardy added the flotation was designed to encourage new names into the syndicate because they would know they could easily get in and out.

The complicated transaction involves Hardy Underwriting Group merging with Hardy Underwriting Agencies, the managing agent of syndicate 382. Hardy Underwriting Group will provide about 25 per cent, or pounds 16m, of the underwriting capacity of syndicate 382 in 1997.

"Syndicate 382 has been one of the more consistently profitable syndicates at Lloyd's and has an underwriting team which has worked together for many years," Mr Hardy said. He has been the active underwriter for the syndicate since its formation in 1975.

The syndicate, a specialist in helicopter insurance as well as other aviation and marine underwriting, managed to maintain positive results in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Lloyd's average slumped into negative territory.

Hardy Underwriting Group set up the first corporate name under the "interavailability rules".

These allow names to convert from unlimited liability underwriting to a limited liability corporate vehicle, while using assets which Lloyd's holds on names' behalf.

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