During a lengthy email exchange with WireNews, Peter William Blanc, chairman of Hastings Insurance Services Limited described the corporate structure of that company as "really quite straightforward". Blanc was quick to point out to WireNews that:
"there’s nothing hidden or untoward in this very straightforward group".
"It’s really quite straightforward."
Over an exchange of 17 emails, Blanc repeatedly sought to normalise this web of companies, concluding with:
"Just to be crystal clear. I am the Non Executive Chairman of the Board of Hastings Insurance Services Ltd."
Why Blanc felt the need to distance himself from the straightforward operation of Hastings Insurance Services, is anyone's guess, but there is no legal distinction between a non-executive director, which is merely an internal company moniker or title of importance and a director, which is a person legally responsible for the activities of a company registered pursuant Companies Act.
What follows is Blanc's idea of a straightforward corporate structure:
Hastings Insurance Services Limited is registered in England and Wales, No. 03116518. This company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is controlled by another company, Hastings (UK) Limited. This company was founded in October 1995.
Hastings (Holdings) Limited is registered in England and Wales, No. 07162484, which was registered as a corporation in February 2010 and this company is controlled by a public limited company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange, Hastings Group Holdings plc.
Hastings Group Holdings plc was incorporated in June 2015 in England and Wales, No. 09635183. However, since June 2018 the company has not been required to disclose the controller or controllers because its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In between Hastings Insurance Services Limited and the ultimate parent company, which is a UK public company, there are no fewer than six Jersey registered companies:
Insurance policies for the above group of companies are issued/underwritten by Advantage Insurance Company Limited, which is a secretly controlled company based in Gibraltar, for which Blanc denies any management control.
Blanc is only the chairman of Hastings Insurance Services, but he is also Group CEO of Aston Lark Group. That story begins with Aston Lark Limited, registered in England and Wales, No. 02831010. Founded in 1993, this company provides many different types of insurance protection through policies issued by a long list of insurance companies. This is that group's straightforward corporate structure:
Hammersmith Midco Limited is controlled by Hammersmith Topco Limited, a company that takes control of Aston Lark Group outside the United Kingdom for the first time. Hammersmith Topco Limited is registered in Jersey, Channel Island in March 2019 and while part of the UK technically, the full details of Jersey registered companies is not made public. Very limited information is available.
Registered office and governance services are provided to Hammersmith Topco Limited by Mourant, a law firm run in Jersey by Daniel Birtwistle. Birtwistle acts upon instructions from the controlling person or persons and will have a letter of instruction tucked neatly in a file that determines the desires of the 'controller' or 'controllers', which does not bind him legally, further than his desire to collect future fees.
Blanc considers this normal.
The question remains: Who is/are the shareholder(s) of Hammersmith Topco Limited?