Insurer Hastings says its debts are a lot lower than rivals such as the AA

Oliver Gill
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Hastings listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2015 (Source: Getty)

Hastings, the motor insurer reported to be the subject of a fracas among AA executives last summer, today made a veiled swipe at the breakdown firm’s £2.8bn debt pile.

Reporting a 13 per cent year-on-year growth in policies, FTSE 250 firm Hastings said it was well on track to achieve a target of 3m policyholders by 2019.

The AA and Hastings held talks last summer over a potential insurance tie-up. The discussions were the reported reason for the then chairman Bob Mackenzie becoming involved in an altercation with a colleague. Mackenzie was fired for "gross misconduct" shortly afterwards.

“We had some very early conversations, one meeting, with the AA and we decided to take it no further,” Hastings chairman Gary Hoffman told City A.M..

Hastings today announced a car breakdown partnership with the RAC.

Read more: The AA has broken down. Can its new boss get the company back on track?

Last week AA shares crashed after Britain’s biggest breakdown firm revealed plans to a accelerate an expansion into the insurance sector. Investors winced as the redirection meant the AA’s lending would take longer to reduce.

“Our net debt leverage is now down to 1.4 times,” Hoffman said in response to a question on his thoughts on the AA’s strategic shift.

Whether it be consumers, whether it be companies, whether it countries or whether it be the world; if you’ve got too much debt, that often gets you. We are in a good place with our net debt coverage. You can yourself decide how we compare to some of the other people you have talked about.

Hastings grew its share of the UK private car insurance market in 2017 from 6.5 per cent to 7.3 per cent. Dividends rose 27 per cent but shares fell over nine per cent amid concerns about a slowdown in premiums.

Read more: AA confirms Hastings merger talks did happen... but are now over

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