Did someone say ‘Indian buffet’? Or does our inside man just have food (and drink) on the brain?
Plumeri kicks it out of the park
To London’s Biba conference and keynote speaker Joe Plumeri gave a blistering speech about, well, everything you can think of, and in the manner of a true expert. Well, would you expect anything else from JP? My pals on Insurance Times then carried out a filmed interviewed with Joe on their stand. Apparently, after a few minutes of formalities, the Willis boss was asked: “Who will win the football world cup this summer?” To which Joe replied: “It’s England versus the USA first … I just hope no one gets hurt.” Can’t imagine that Joe has experienced England’s travelling fans first hand, but I’m not sure the big man should be his usual vocal self during that particular fixture.
Make your head spin
It must be tough to be Omega boss Richard Pexton. Picture the scene: you’re sat with your PR man and together you’re thinking through your results day strategy. I imagine the conversation must go something like this: “Right boss, focus on the top line. Tell them we have double-digit growth and that it’s all spiffing … but try not to mention the shareholder revolt and the fact that half the management team is now missing in action as a result. Got it?” Surely nothing can go wrong.
Regazzoni makes some big waves
There’s a few of my mates in the Lloyd’s market making waves right now. Take Philippe Regazzoni, for example. A big guy with a big personality, I hear he’s jumping from the Swiss Re ship to join Amlin as a top boss man, as it prepares an assault on the reinsurance market. It’s definitely a trend, this – the London players, like Brit and Catlin, expanding globally. And often at the expense of the capital …
One crazy cat
Step forward my old pal Richard Ward. The Lloyd’s boss is the kind of smooth character from my mould. So it was no surprise to hear his views on the cat situation earlier this month. Wardy warned that this summer, one big cat could wipe out last year’s profit and that the market faced “a perfect storm”. He then waxed on about the need for a “strict diet of underwriting discipline”. Personally, if we can’t do anything about it anyway, I’d prefer a nice fillet mignon with a few grilled mushrooms and a glass of merlot.
You’ve got to love the volcano story, haven’t you? Alright, so it got in the way a bit, but all those losses with so few claims. Fat cat airline bosses were running around like a pack of rabid dogs. That’ll teach ’em for not putting in just a few more inches of leg room in premium economy.
Buffett curries favour
Now Warren Buffett wants to buy up an Indian reinsurance business. He’s apparently looking at New India Assurance, United India Insurance, National Insurance Company and Oriental Insurance. What’s more, he’s said to be heading over to take the issue up with the Indian government. His only problem is that rules state that foreign investors are forbidden from owning more than 26% in local businesses. But an insider at Berkshire whispered to me that Warren is likely to reach an agreement over a pint of Cobra very soon. Either that or he’ll just get his cheque book out and say no more.
I hear that one of my journo colleagues recently spent the day in Brussels hanging out with the Euro bods and the Solvency II crowd at the European parliament. To be frank, it’s not my idea of a right good day out. I’m just not convinced about the quality of the booze on first-class Eurostar. GR