Scor ousts chief but sees no let up in cost of credit protection

French reinsurer Scor - plagued by profits warnings and a deteriorating financial position - has ousted its chairman and chief executive, Jacques Blondeau, with immediate effect, replacing him with Denis Kessler of the French insurance association.

The move sparked a 10% rally in Scor’s share price, which has taken a battering in the past couple of months, but created little movement in the credit default swaps market.

A London-based trader at a leading dealer said it was still possible to buy and sell Scor credit default swaps, “albeit not in large size”. He added that the upturn in Scor’s share price had not helped liquidity in Scor’s bonds or credit default swaps. Protection costs on Scor’s five-year senior debt ended today’s trading session in Europe at bids of 1,000 basis points.

Kessler said his focus over the coming weeks was on Scor’s planned rights issue, considered essential to buttress its flagging financial capital position, and its end-of-year insurance contract renewals. “In the forthcoming weeks, my priorities are to restore confidence in the group and to return us rapidly to profitability,” said Kessler.

Kessler sits on the boards of Amvescap, BNP Paribas, Bollore, Cetelem, Cogedim, Dexia and Vendome Rome. He was previously managing director and member of the executive committee of French insurer Axa.

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