Phoenix float almost there

Steve Dinneen
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PHOENIX Group is set to announce its premium listing on the London Stock Exchange this week .

It has been involved in crunch talks with investors, including its founder, pizza entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, over a number of special shares.

The contingent rights were issued when investors agreed to take a 70 per cent hit on their stake last year when the debt-laden firm was forced to overhaul its finances.

However, the special shares mean Phoenix is banned from an LSE listing, sparking a lengthy period of negotiations.

The firm, formally known as Pearl, says it is confident it will iron out the remaining obstacles in time for its planned annual meeting on 23 June.

The zombie life assurance fund requires confirmation of the meeting to be posted to interested parties three weeks in advance, meaning Wednesday is the last possible day for completing the negotiations if the self-imposed deadline is to be met.

Under the expected agreement, Phoenix would swap nine shares for every 10 contingent rights held by Osmond and buyout firm TDR Capital.

A spokesman told City A.M.: “We are hopeful of getting it done and hope to achieve our premium listing by the end of June.”

Barring eleventh-hour fireworks, the completion of the premium listing will represent the end of a torrid chapter in the insurer’s history.

It is still licking its wounds from a bloody battle with a powerful group of bond holders who were unwilling to absorb a hit on their investment when the firm restructured.

It emerged victorious in April after revealing it will not seek to raise capital during the listing, thus removing a major bargaining chip for the dissenting bond holders.

Phoenix, which currently has a market value of £508m, is now chaired by City veteran Ron Sandler, the chair of Northern Rock.