Cobra Holdings shares tank as it enters talks

SHARES in insurance broker Cobra Holdings plunged by nearly a fifth yesterday after it said it is in talks with two suitors.

The firm, which said last month that restructuring costs would hit annual profits, is now co-operating with potential bidders Alto Intermediary, a vehicle set up by Cobra chief executive Stephen Burrows, and Towergate Partnershipco, part of Towergate Insurance Group.

Towergate Group is the largest independent insurance intermediary in Europe, generating more than £2bn of gross written premiums a year.

Cobra, which writes £350m in premiums a year, said it had received “several indicative offers” before choosing to speak to Alto and Towergate.

In a statement yesterday it said: “Cobra is co-operating with two potential offerors which are making pre-offer enquiries with due diligence.

“There can be no certainty that any offer will be made for the company.”

Firms intending to bid have until 1 May under Takeover Code rules. Shares in Cobra closed down 18.75 per cent at 19.5p. The firm was set up in 2006 through the merger of six companies.