Beazley sweetens its offer for rival Hardy

 
City A.M. Reporter
LLOYD’S of London insurer Beazley threatened to pull its bid approach for rival Hardy Underwriting after a sweetened offer worth £174m was rejected.

Dublin-based Beazley said yesterday it would walk away unless Hardy agreed to discuss its revised 330p per share proposal, up from an initial 300p last month.

Hardy said the new proposal still “substantially undervalues” the company, describing it as “an attempt to acquire the company opportunistically”.

Beazley chief executive Andrew Horton has indicated he will discuss the latest proposal directly with Hardy’s shareholders this week. Horton has said the offer will be withdrawn if shareholders do not bite at or around the 330p level.

Lloyd’s of London insurers have been at the centre of takeover speculation because an unpromising trading environment has weighed on their share prices, opening up potentially attractive acquisition opportunities. Brit Insurance last month accepted a $1.4bn (£872m) offer from buyout firms Apollo Management and CVC Capital Partners after a four-month takeover battle.

Buying Hardy would diversify Beazley’s predominantly US-focused business, while giving it access to more lucrative catastrophe insurance business.