Resolution profit rises as it prepares split

Insurer Resolution reported better-than-expected 2011 profit, helped by a one-off boost from outsourcing, and said it was working on a plan to split itself into two to make itself more attractive to investors.

Resolution, created in 2008 to buy underperforming life insurers and merge them into a more profitable whole, made an operating profit of £681m, up from £275m a year earlier, and ahead of the £602m expected by analysts in a company poll.

The company, which aims to make money for its backers by selling or floating its assets, said it may split its operations into two by early 2014 to maximise returns.

Under the plan, Resolution would divide its business into a standard life insurer open to new customers, and a 'closed book' of existing policies which would be closed to new business and managed for cash.

Resolution, which owns Friends Provident, most of Axa's British operations, and life insurer BHA, has for the past year been focusing on cost savings and returning cash to investors rather than on fresh acquisitions.

The company, founded by entrepreneur Clive Cowdery, has previously said it might launch separate takeover vehicles to acquire and merge fund managers or closed life insurance businesses in the United States or mainland Europe.