Hastings boss confirms group looking at float

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Hastings Insurance Group chief exec Gary Hoffman
HASTINGS Insurance Group boss Gary Hoffman said yesterday that the firm was still looking into the option of floating on the stock market.

Addressing speculation that a public listing is on the cards in the next few months, Hoffman told City A.M.: “We are working with the shareholders to review options for the future, and that does include the option of an IPO but we’re in no rush. There’s no timetable.”

Hoffman, who previously led the rescue and restructure of Northern Rock, made the comments while discussing Hastings’ results for 2014, which saw profit before tax jump by 29 per cent to £69.3m from £53.6m in 2013.

Group revenue was up 17 per cent to £401m from £342m, and gross written premiums for the 12 months reached £483m, a 19 per cent jump compared with the £407m posted the previous year, driven partly by the fact that customer numbers went up by 20 per cent to 1.71m.

“I think that qualifies as firing on all cylinders,” said Hoffman, adding that the reason for the upward trend in the firm’s results was “because of our focus on price comparison websites”, which is where 90 per cent of the group’s business is conducted.

According to Hoffman, this is made possible because Hastings is “built for the digital age”, with significant investment earmarked to the company’s digital offering in the coming year.

While he declined to specify how much would be spent on the digital side of the business in 2015, Hoffman said: “Most insurance companies spend a lot of money on brand and advertising, but as a proportion of expenditure, we spend a lot more on digital.”

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