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Friday, August 10, 2007

Doubts Over Merger

Despite the fact that Friends Provident's chief executive, Philip Moore, said that he believed that the £8.6BN merger with rival insurer Resolution "would be born"; doubts were cast on this by one of the major shareholders of F&C Asset Management (F&C), Dawnay Day.

Moore said:

"Should somebody else make a formal offer to the board of Friends Provident that adds more value than the value from this deal of course we will consider it."

However, Dawnay Day said that it had "concerns" over a tie-up with Resolution Asset Management. F&C is 52% owned by Friends Provident. Under the terms of the proposal, Resolution Asset Management will be injected into F&C but F&C will continue as a separately listed business.

Dawnay Day are questioning the logic of the merger, as Resolution is a lower margin business; and the tie up would fly in the face of earlier statement from Friends Provident, that they would be look at higher margin businesses.

Pearl's chief executive, Hugh Osmond, has also made his concerns public, stating that Resolution shareholders would not get maximum value from the deal.

Osmond has opposed the merger, and Pearl has been stake building in Resolution shortly after the proposals were announced. Pearl now has a 16.5% holding in Resolution.

Friends Provident have just released good half-year results. Group underlying profits before tax were up 7% to £264M, on the back of and UK sales of £2.26BN, up 12% on last year.

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