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Cox target for bids

UK motor insurer Cox Insurance Holdings has received a number of bid approaches, the company confirmed yesterday.

Following an article in The Sunday Telegraph which suggested the firm was in discussions with a consortium led by ousted chief executive Neil Utley, the company confirmed it had “received approaches as a result of which it is in preliminary discussions that may or may not lead to an offer for the company at a material premium to the recently traded share price”.

The statement continued: “Cox shareholders should be aware that there is no certainty that these discussions will result in an offer being made and the Board remains highly confident of Cox's existing strategy and prospects.

According to the report, Utley has secured private equity funding from Englefield Capital and Lloyds TSB to make a bid, which could value the insurer at around £300mn. Shares in the company closed on Friday at 65p – valuing the group at around £204mn – but had climbed almost 30 percent to 83.5p today.

Cox has had a “for sale” sign over its head for some time and came close to tying the knot with fellow specialist Highway before talks ending with suggestions from the Highway camp that Cox was under-reserved. This, however, was firmly denied by the company.

Last year, Englefield Capital provided the funding to enable the management buy-out of Canopius, the Lloyd’s arm of defunct (re)insurer Trenwick International.

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