Cowdery eyes third project as profits leap

ENTREPRENEUR Clive Cowdery has begun sounding out potential sellers of assets for a third consolidation project after Resolution beat expectations with a £139m first-half profit.

Cowdery, who banked a fortune of millions of pounds from the first incarnation of his insurance buyout vehicle, has held talks with both open and closed life companies in the Eurozone and the US. The news will fuel speculation the current Resolution is close to making its final acquisition, likely to be an insurer with an asset management arm.

John Tiner, chief executive of Resolution, said: “[We have] continued to study market opportunities and talk to market participants and potential vendors in other financial services sectors and geographies.”

Shares in Resolution jumped 3.4 per cent to 254.3p yesterday as the company said strong performance from its Friends Provident unit helped turn a pre-tax operating loss of £7m last year into a profit of £203m. Earnings before tax came in at £203m. Resolution declared a dividend of 5.5p per share.

The numbers did not factor in Resolution’s £2.8bn purchase of the UK life assurance and savings part of Axa, the French giant, which is due to complete shortly.

Raghu Hariharan at Citigroup said the consensus beat was partly down to low visibility but added: “Clearly the first half business performance has been strong.”