Esure founder meets banks to discuss a float

PETER Wood, chairman of UK motor insurer Esure, has been meeting investment banks to discuss its path to a stock market flotation, the company confirmed yesterday.

Wood, an insurance industry sage who founded Direct Line in 1985 and Esure in 2000, has met bankers for very early stage talks over listing it on the London Stock Exchange.

Esure has made no secret of its intention to access the public market in the next three years, with plans to raise up to £2bn from a share offering.

Any flotation will take place in the second half of 2012 at the earliest, however. Wood is restricted in any sale of Esure after he and private equity vehicle Tosca Penta Investments bought out Lloyds Bank’s 70 per cent stake last year for £185m.

The buyout, which left Wood with a 55 per cent stake and Tosca Penta with 45 per cent, included an “anti-embarrassment clause” that prevents Esure being sold within a certain period.

Wood founded Esure with Sir James Crosby in a joint venture with Halifax which, as HBOS, was taken over by Lloyds in 2008. Three weeks ago Esure launched a broking business, Esure Broker, to enable it to offer a wider range of motor insurance products as it positions itself for the IPO.