Byrne boosts Omega with £50m stake

TAKEOVER target Omega Insurance received a vote of confidence from one of its numerous potential buyers yesterday as insurance scion Mark Byrne tabled an informal offer to buy a 25 per cent stake for £50m.

Shares in the Lloyd’s insurer closed up 7.6 per cent as investors saw the offer as a vote of confidence in Omega’s prospects following 18 months of losses.

But after months of speculation that Byrne planned to buy Omega outright, industry sources questioned why he had not taken a bigger stake.

Byrne’s investment firm Haverford will buy up to 60m Omega shares for a maximum of 83p per share. It also said major shareholder Invesco would not tender any of its shares, a sign it would work with Haverford.

“Although Omega has experienced a challenging period, it continues to have a solid underlying core business with clear opportunities,” it said.

Byrne, the founder of reinsurer Flagstone Re and son of insurance tycoon Jack Byrne, will become executive chairman and his father will also become a non-executive director.

Omega’s chairman John Coldman will become a non-executive director and chief executive Richard Pexton will stay in post.

The news is the latest twist in Omega’s takeover saga after Lloyd’s rival Canopius approached it in January and US insurer Barbican started talks in June, while a third insurer, Novae, walked away in July.