RESOLUTION, the buyout vehicle headed by 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 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’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’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’s shareholder base enjoys the clarity of Friends’ 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 £660m war-chest to use. The Friends board rejected a £1.7bn bid approach from Resolution last Monday.