Bloomberg News

Haverford Said to Consider Raising Bottom of Omega Bid Range

October 21, 2011

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Haverford (Bermuda) Ltd. may raise the minimum price of its offer for a 25 percent stake in Omega Insurance Holdings Ltd., according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

Haverford has been in talks with Omega, the second-smallest publicly traded Lloyd’s of London insurer, to raise the minimum price to 73 pence from 70 pence, said the people, who declined to be named because the discussions are private and no agreement has been reached. Haverford may subsequently increase its stake past 25 percent by buying Omega shares on the market, they said.

Omega and its largest shareholder, Invesco Ltd., backed Haverford’s offer yesterday after more than a month of rival bids. Haverford’s original Sept. 12 bid for a quarter stake in Omega had a maximum price of 83 pence a share, with the final price to be set when shareholders submit the minimum they would accept in a so-called Dutch auction. Lloyd’s insurers have become takeover targets after earnings fell following the worst first half for catastrophe losses on record.

“The completion of this offer will result in a much more illiquid stock with shareholders having an outstanding exposure to Omega,” Sarah Lewandowski, a London-based analyst with Peel Hunt, wrote today in a note to investors.

At a minimum 73 pence price, Haverford’s offer would be valued at about 45 million pounds ($71 million), according to Bloomberg calculations.

Omega shares dropped 4.9 percent yesterday in London trading, when the insurer’s endorsement of Haverford prompted Canopius Group Ltd. to withdraw its bid for all of Omega’s equity. The shares were down 2.2 percent to 66 pence as of 1 p.m. in London today, giving Omega a market value of 161 million pounds.

Haverford’s chairman is Mark Byrne, founder of Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Ltd. Should Haverford’s bid succeed, Byrne would become Omega’s executive chairman, while Richard Pexton will remain chief executive officer.

Omega has also fended off bids this year from Lloyd’s rivals Barbican Group Holdings Ltd., which made a fresh bid on Sept. 22, and Novae Group Plc. Barbican’s proposal isn’t in shareholders’ interest, Omega said yesterday.

--Editors: Keith Campbell, Steve Bailey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Bandel in Zurich at cbandel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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