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Cowdery bid thunders on

RESOLUTION, the buyout vehicle headed by&nbsp; Clive Cowdery, is pressing ahead with its audacious bid to buy out life insurer Friends Provident and restructure the group to unlock value, despite opposition from the&nbsp; Friends board.<br /><br />Resolution is hoping to start talks with Friends this week that would lead to a buyout of the firm. Cowdery is confident he would have the support of the insurer&rsquo;s some 700,000 shareholders in such a deal. <br /><br />Resolution is likely to this week table a sweetened bid proposal for Friends, including a cash element and a commitment on dividends, to seal the deal with the shareholders. <br /><br />A source close to Cowdery said last night that Resolution should be the buyer as his proposals involve a restructure of Friends to release value from the group that would not be possible if Friends was the buyer. <br /><br />This comes after the Friends board, headed by Sir Adrian Montague, on Friday sent a letter to Cowdery saying he would have to throw out Resolution&rsquo;s generous compensation scheme for bosses before the deal could be fair to the shareholders. <br /><br />The letter said Resolution should be taken over by 177-year old Friends, not the other way around, as the insurer&rsquo;s shareholder base enjoys the clarity of Friends&rsquo; FTSE 100 status and would like to retain it. <br /><br />The dispute makes a full-blown hostile takeover bid, in which Resolution would ignore the Friends board and make an offer directly to the shareholders, look increasingly likely.<br /><br />The vehicle is keen to start putting its &pound;660m war-chest to use. The Friends board rejected a &pound;1.7bn bid approach from Resolution last Monday.