Cowdery will not be put off Friends deal

RESOLUTION, Clive Cowdery&rsquo;s buyout vehicle, is determined to fight on with plans to take over Friends Provident despite an unequivocal merger rejection from the life insurer yesterday. <br /><br />The buyout firm believes a deal will take place, whether it is a friendly transaction that keeps Friends&rsquo; board in place or a hostile takeover, according to a source close to Cowdery.<br /><br />And the fact the Friends share price continues to hover around yesterday&rsquo;s close of 72.2p, valuing the group at around &pound;1.69bn, indicates that is the price shareholders feel the deal will take place at.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are not thinking in hostile terms at the moment, we are hoping with more pressure from the shareholders a deal will be done,&rdquo; the source said.<br /><br />This came after Friends yesterday ended talks with Resolution after rejecting a fresh takeover approach from the Guernsey-based bid vehicle over the weekend.<br /><br />&ldquo;The board of Friends Provident sees no basis for further engagement with Resolution and has terminated discussions,&rdquo; it said. <br /><br />Resolution offered to buy the insurer for 0.82 of its shares for every Friends share valuing it at &pound;1.7bn &ndash; seen as relatively low by most analysts. The vehicle also threw in a &pound;500m cash sweetener entice a friendly transaction.