The chairman of Lloyd’s of London has claimed veterans of the three-centuries-old insurance market view the challenge of Brexit as a “walk in the park” compared with the crisis the organisation survived three decades ago.
John Nelson’s comments come before Lloyd’s of London’s impending announcement of its preferred location for an EU subsidiary post‑Brexit.
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“If you go back in history and talk to some of the people who’ve been working here – I’ve only been working here for six years – for 40 years, they’d regard this as probably a bit of a walk in the park compared to a few years ago when Lloyd’s very nearly went bust, when it was almost out of business for reputational reasons,” he said.
Lloyd’s amassed losses of £14 billion between 1988 and 1992 through a mixture of asbestos claims and a series of catastrophes.
The latter included the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster off the coast of Aberdeen, which killed 167 workers on 6 July, 1988. Only a major rescue plan rescued the market, but many hundreds of Names – wealthy individuals who provided capital to Lloyd’s in hopes of returns on their investment under terms of unlimited liability – suffered major losses.
Nelson said that Britain’s pending divorce from the EU was clearly a serious issue, but that Lloyd’s was now in a much stronger position to deal with the related fallout.
He added that a firm decision had yet to be made on the EU domicile of its new subsidiary, but that “there’s still more than one country in the frame”.