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Heritage aims for IPO despite Rock loss

Heritage Underwriting Agency plc is still keen to proceed with its planned Alternative Investment Market (AIM) flotation despite the sudden resignation of its renowned underwriter, Les Rock.

Despite suggestions that Rock’s departure was linked to a disagreement after discussions over the division of share options following the planned listing, a company spokesman denied any rift, and said that share options were not an issue. He reiterated that Rock decided to retire “after a successful career at Heritage”.

He continued: “Heritage is considering the IPO, subject to market conditions”.

Rock is one of the London market’s leading property underwriters and his Syndicate 1200 closed its 2003 year with a 28 percent return on capacity – making it one of the best performing Lloyd’s syndicates. Despite the industry’s heavy storm losses, Syndicate 1200 is currently predicting a modest loss of 3.6 percent of stamp for 2005 and a profit of 5.5 percent in 2004.

Despite the suggestions of a retirement, most observers expect the former Faraday underwriter will reappear in due course.

Last month, Heritage announced it was considering an AIM listing, together with plans to form a £50mn capacity new syndicate. The insurer – which is owned 23 percent by HCC Insurance Holdings Ltd – is thought to be looking to raise between £30mn-£50mn in the IPO.

Heritage has appointed KBC Peel Hunt as company broker, together with Hines Associates Ltd as the company’s financial adviser.

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