Belgian insurer Ageas abandons bid for Direct Line Group / Image Source: Adobe
  • Ageas made two approaches
  • Direct Line board entrenched
  • Group relying on new targets

Shareholders in insurer Direct Line (DLG) were dealt a hammer-blow late on Friday evening with the news Benelux suitor Ageas (AGS:EBR) had upped sticks and walked away.

This morning the shares slumped more than 28p or 13% to 180p, meaning they have given back more than half their gains since Direct Line first revealed the approach at the end of February.


The 200-year-old Belgian insurer said it had made two attempts to engage with the Direct Line board, in January and in March, but had been rejected both times.

Without access to the UK firm’s books, and working solely on publicly-available information, Ageas said it was unable ‘to identify additional elements that would justify significant adjustments to the terms of its possible offer’ so it decided to pull out altogether.

The company added: ‘Ageas continues to believe in the underlying attractiveness and future opportunities of the UK personal lines sector and the role of Ageas UK in this market, underpinned by its successful turnaround over the last few years.’

Direct Line issued its own statement in response saying it was ‘confident’ in its prospects as a standalone business and ‘well-positioned to drive material improvement in performance that is expected to unlock significant value for shareholders’.


When it published its full-year 2023 results earlier this month, the UK insurer set out a new cost-saving plan and margin target which was likely part of its defence against potential bidders.

The firm aims to cut expenditure by at least £100 million by the end of 2025 on an annualised run-rate basis and increase its net insurance margin from an historic 10% to 13% helped by improved claims performance, better pricing models and customer segmentation.

Newly-appointed chief executive Adam Winslow admitted the firm had ‘not always managed volatile market conditions successfully in recent years, particularly in motor (insurance)’, but argued there was ‘a strong platform for recovery, including significant pricing and underwriting actions to improve our margins’ together with the sale of the brokered commercial business.




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Issue Date: 25 Mar 2024