Axa puts Bluefin advisory arm on the block

Axa UK has appointed Fenchurch Advisory Partners to advise on strategy for Bluefin Advisory Services, the advice arm of Axa-owned insurance broking business Bluefin.

In June, FTAdviser exclusively reported that Bluefin may have been planning to close its advisory arm and had shut its office in Newcastle.

A source close to the company said that a meeting took place at the Newcastle Bluefin advisory office on Tuesday 28 June, in which all Bluefin Advisory Services staff were told by senior management to hand over their keys.

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The staff were said to have been informed that they were being put on 30-days at-risk notice and that they will have to work their notice. The source said that the impression at the meeting was that Axa had pulled its funding.

In a statement Axa said that the appointment of Fenchurch follows a number of expressions of interest in acquiring Bluefin’s advisory arm and the disposal of Axa UK’s corporate pensions business last year.

Fenchurch will look at the potential for growth of the company under current ownership as well as how it would fare if sold.

Bluefin Insurance Group, the general insurance broking business, is part of Axa’s commercial lines operation. Axa said there are no plans to bring the business ‘in-house’.

Bluefin Advisory Services recently reported a loss of £1.9m before taxes for the year ending 31 December 2010.