Direct Line regroups amid another potential takeover attempt

Founder says "abysmal" company deserves to be bought off

Direct Line regroups amid another potential takeover attempt

Insurance News

By Kenneth Araullo

Direct Line Group CEO Adam Winslow is poised to unveil a fresh strategy in the wake of the company’s refusal of a £3.1 billion acquisition proposal from Belgian competitor Ageas, sources close to the situation revealed to The Mail.

Winslow, who assumed the role of CEO shortly after the offer was dismissed by Direct Line’s board as “unattractive” at the end of February, will present the new plan concurrently with the annual financial outcomes on March 21, a report from This is Money revealed.

The firm, which boasts a client base of approximately 10 million and operates brands such as Churchill and Green Flag, is listed on the FTSE 250 index and was established in 1985 as Britain’s inaugural telephone-based insurance provider.

Despite Direct Line’s rejection of Ageas’s initial advance, the possibility remains that Ageas, or perhaps other competitors, might submit a revised, more appealing offer.

The strategy from Winslow is expected to highlight initiatives aimed at enhancing Direct Line’s technological capabilities, potentially through the development of a dedicated application – a first for the company.

In addition, measures to reduce operational costs are expected to feature prominently in his presentation.

Direct Line’s historical management challenges were starkly critiqued by the company’s founder, Sir Peter Wood, who said that the company had been run “so abysmally”, rendering the insurer a candidate for acquisition.

The critique also comes against a backdrop of several profit warnings issued by Direct Line in recent times. In January, its profitability was challenged over potential regulatory actions by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The subsequent departure of chief executive Penny James, coupled with a mandated reimbursement of approximately £30 million to customers overcharged for policy renewals, further compounded the company’s difficulties.

In September, Direct Line reported a loss of £76 million, prompting the sale of is commercial insurance division for £520 million as part of efforts to fortify its financial position.

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