Resolution eyes up further deals

RESOLUTION, the insurance buyout group founded by entrepreneur Clive Cowdery, said yesterday that it remains firmly on the acquisition trail, with a view to exploiting opportunities overseas as well as in the UK.

Chief executive John Tiner said the group has a “wider and longer-term ambition to build restructuring projects in other jurisdictions”, including the US, though he emphasised that the group’s “priority is the UK”.
Resolution, which aims to build up a life insurance group valued at £10bn before floating or selling it by 2013, yesterday reported booming sales at its Friends Provident brand over the first nine months of the year, rising 35 per cent to £683m.

Friends Provident was boosted by its international and Lombard businesses, which grew sales 31 per cent to £176m and 184 per cent to £213m respectively, while UK life and pensions sales lingered at similar levels to last year. Friends Provident’s UK sales totalled £294m over the period, while the newly-acquired Axa UK life business contributed £26m of sales in September.

Resolution last month announced its intention to acquire Bupa Health Assurance for a net consideration of about £102m, expected to complete early next year. The deal aims to up the group’s market share in individual and group protection.

Resolution’s share price has tumbled 30 per cent over the year so far against a five per cent rise in the sector as a whole, making it one of the worst performing insurance stocks in Europe. Analysts blame the decline in part on concerns the company may launch a big rights issues to fund future deals. The shares lost 0.8 per cent yesterday to close at 244.5p.