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Wood bids £200m for Cox

The founder of Direct Line Peter Wood has bid £200m for the UK's eighth largest motor insurer Cox Insurance. His bid is backed by HBOS with which he has a joint venture through the Esure online insurance business.

Esure has held a 1.3 per cent stake in Cox since April. Cox would be a good fit with Esure - which is looking for growth. Cox took a major hit with the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack and is thought to have huge on-paper losses which have resulted in the group's market value slump from £612m just four years ago. After the 9/11 losses, Cox has moved out of the commercial insurance business – most notably quitting the nuclear and aviation sectors. Cox's raised £73m in a rights issue this year and has tried to reinvent itself as a retail insurer.

Peter Wood has made around £80m from building up and then selling companies. He sold Direct Line to Royal Bank of Scotland and Privilege, a subsequent insurance business, after just a year.

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