Brit Insurance accepts £888m offer from Apollo and CVC

Brit Insurance has accepted a formal offer from buyout firms Apollo Management and CVC Capital Partners after recommending an approach which values Brit at up to £888m.

Lloyd's of London insurers, which offer cover against large-scale risks such as natural disasters, have emerged as potential takeover targets because cyclically low insurance prices have weighed heavily on their shares.

Brit's chief executive Dane Douetil said conditions were now ripe within the sector for consolidation given upcoming Solvency II requirements, which may create capital issues for the smaller players, and the short-term volatility weighing on results.

"Certainly, it is more likely to have more consolidation in the next 12 to 24 months than there has been in the last 5 years," Douetil told Reuters.

Earlier this month, insurer Hardy rebuffed an initial 300 pence per share approach from peer Beazley.

Brit Insurance said in a separate statement on Tuesday that overall gross written premiums for the nine month period to 25 October fell nine per cent to £1.22bn as underwriting conditions remain competitive.

Brit Insurance said the offer from the Apollo, CVC consortium valued the business at 10.75 pence per share, but included a provision through which shareholders would receive a further 25 pence per share should Brit's net tangible asset value be more than £11 per share at the end of 2010.

This represents a premium of 47-51 per cent to Brit's closing share price of 729 pence on 10 June – the last day before the offer period started.

"It will allow us to build the business at the right part of the cycle, to be more nimble in what we do and to have a longer term perspective," said Douetil.