Brit drops its Chaucer bid

BRIT Insurance withdrew its bid for rival Lloyd&rsquo;s of London insurer Chaucer Holdings yesterday, as private equity group Pamplona ramped up its assault on Chaucer by further boosting its stake.<br /><br />Brit said the board of Chaucer had decided not to recommend its &pound;220m offer &ndash; worth almost a third less than for the group&rsquo;s book value &ndash; to shareholders, forcing it to withdraw its interest.<br /><br />This now clears the way for Pamplona, the private equity group headed by Russian-born tycoon Alex Knaster, to pursue its target of acquiring a 29.9 per cent stake in the insurer. It said yesterday it has now bought a further 3.99m shares taking its total stake to 10 per cent.<br /><br />In the wake of the Brit retreat, Chaucer issued a separate statement revealing its chief executive Ewen Gilmour and chief financial officer Mark Graham are quitting the firm.<br /><br />Gilmour is to retire and Graham is leaving to pursue other opportunities, the group said.<br /><br />The move follows a rollercoaster period for Chaucer, which had to raise &pound;75m earlier this year and has been in talks with potential suitors since January, after taking a hit from investment exposure to hedge funds last year.