Haste and private equity look at possible bid for Direct Line

Marion Dakers
ANDY Haste, the former chief executive of insurer RSA, is believed to have teamed up with private equity firms to study a possible bid for insurance group Direct Line.

RBS, which plans to dispose of Direct Line by the end of the year, has not yet had a formal approach from his consortium, which includes Blackstone, Advent and Bain and is conducting early-stage talks about a bid.

RBS is pressing ahead with plans to float Direct Line in the autumn, if market conditions allow, but will be encouraged by the interest from private equity.

Direct Line includes home and motor insurance brands such as Churchill, Green Flag and Privilege.

Part-nationalised RBS hired advisers including UBS, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to discuss options for the business and have been preparing for an IPO in London since May, with analysts putting its potential value at upwards of £3bn.

RBS declined to comment yesterday, while Haste and his possible backers were not available for comment.