Osmond quits Phoenix after eight years

HUGH Osmond yesterday quit the board of the closed book life insurer he founded eight years ago, signalling an end to a lengthy – and not always easy – association with the industry.

Osmond, the co-founder of Pizza Express, began building up Pearl in 2005, making a series of costly acquisitions. After struggling with a large debt pile it currently exists as FTSE 250 firm Phoenix Group and is in talks about a potential £3bn merger with a division of Swiss Re.

Phoenix chief executive Clive Bannister told City A.M. that Osmond’s decision was “immensely natural” following a successful fundraising in January.

So-called “zombie funds” such as Phoenix buy up insurance firms that are closed to new customers and attempt to combine them into a more profitable whole.