BROKERS WEIGH WEAVERS' FUTURE FINANCIAL WOES FOCUS OF PARLEY

BROKERS WEIGH WEAVERS' FUTURE FINANCIAL WOES FOCUS OF PARLEY

Insurance brokers and insurance company representatives, including underwriters, met here Wednesday to discuss the financial problems of Weavers (Underwriting) Agency Ltd., but are not saying if this means they are planning a rescue attempt.

John Garner, chairman of the Lloyd's Insurance Brokers Committee, said the meeting reviewed the problems of London United Investments PLC, Weavers' parent company, and of Walbrook Insurance Co., another LUI subsidiary that provided 55 percent of Weavers' insurance business. Both are London companies separate from the Lloyd's underwriting market.Mr. Garner would not say if the meeting was attended by Anglo American Insurance Co., which provided the other 45 percent of Weavers' business and that also has expressed an interest in acquiring the underwriting agent.

Speaking as a representative of the Lloyd's of London broking community, Mr. Garner said it "would be premature to speculate at this time on the implications" of the meeting, in particular whether it would result in an attempt to rescue Weavers.

Wednesday's meeting was chaired by David Palmer, chairman of the British Insurance and Investment Brokers Association. Apart from Mr. Garner, brokers in attendance included representatives of Sedgwick Group; C.T. Bowring, the U.K. broking subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan; and Alexander Howden, the U.K. subsidiary of Alexander & Alexander.

Weavers' difficulties emerged on March 25 when the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry ordered Walbrook Insurance Co., LUI's principal insurance subsidiary, to cease taking on new business because of concerns that its reserves might not be sufficient to meet claims.

The main decision at Wednesday's meeting was that more information is required, which it was hoped would be available in time for another meeting next week.

This information includes not only a report on the finances of several LUI underwriting subsidiaries by consulting actuaries Tillinghast, but ''confirmation of information we already have," said Mr. Garner. No date has yet been fixed for next week's meeting.

Chris Hitchings, an insurance analyst with securities firm Hoare Govett of London, accused the brokers and Anglo American of playing a game of "call my bluff" to see who would rescue Weavers. Insurance brokers face the threat of lawsuits from clients whose business they placed with Weavers, the largest underwriting agent of U.S. casualty risks in the London market.

Mr. Hitchings speculated that Anglo American's withdrawal last week from an agreement to assist in supervising Weavers might have been been a ploy to frighten insurance brokers into financing Weavers' rescue.

The analyst dismissed speculation that the cost of rescuing Weavers as a going concern could run into several hundred million dollars, however. "I doubt if its more than $20 million to $30 million," he said.

Simon Willis, another analyst with County NatWest Wood Mac of Edinburgh, Scotland, believed it was more probable a Weavers rescue would come from John Head, of New York merchant bank John Head & Partners, which owns Anglo. "He doesn't want to get caught with Weavers' past liabilities," said Mr. Willis.

John O'Sullivan, a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Cos., New York, agreed on Tuesday that "The major problem with bringing the phoenix back from the ashes is the question of (LUI's) past liabilities."

Lorraine Iannello in New York contributed to this story.