Canopius ramps up Omega pressure with £200m offer

BIDDING for Lloyd’s insurer Omega heated up yesterday after almost nine months without a breakthrough as its larger rival Canopius offered to buy it for almost £200m.

Canopius’ 83p-per-share bid matched the top price offered by investment vehicle Haverford in its bid for 25 per cent of Omega tabled on Monday.

But its chief executive Michael Watson denied that he had been teased into topping Haverford’s offer.

“We have been ready in our minds for a few weeks now and had formulated our view of what we wanted to pay,” he told City A.M. “The way to make it a simple choice for shareholders was to match the prices.”

Watson said Canopius had tabled its first offer nine months ago but said engagement with Omega’s board had been slow. “It was a process like wading through treacle,” he said.

Privately-owned Canopius is the tenth largest Lloyd’s insurer and Watson said it would gain substantially from adding Omega. “Our combined premium would certainly be significant and would put us in the leading ranks of Lloyd’s,” he said.

Omega’s shares gained 4.9 per cent yesterday but remain at 74.5p, well below the offer price.