Resolution says deals to come before 2012

INSURANCE bid vehicle Resolution insisted its acquisition plans were on track yesterday despite a 16 per cent slide in its share price since the start of the year.

Chief executive John Tiner said the team was “very confident indeed” it would make two more significant deals by 2012 after its £1.8bn takeover of life company Friends Provident last August.

Tiner’s comments came as Friends Provident reported sales of £873m in 2009, down 13 per cent from £1bn the previous year but ahead of analyst expectations of £760m.

Friends Provident chief executive Trevor Matthews attributed the decline to tough market conditions in the UK, adding: “We can’t see any rapid expansion in business in 2010.”

The figures were almost irrelevant to analysts, whose eyes are fixed on the April to July window when Resolution owner Clive Cowdery is predicted to pounce on another acquisition.

Toby Langley, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said: “There are some investors out there who had started to lose patience, but that’s inappropriate because they’re basically on schedule in terms of the timeline for picking up assets.”

Resolution said it remained focused on consolidating insurance and asset management businesses.
The insurance units of Lloyds Group, Zurich UK and Axa UK are thought to be in the frame, Lloyds
being a prime candidate because of its asset divestment programme.

Shares in Resolution rose 1.6 per cent to close at 72.5p, outstripping the broader market which ticked up 0.6 per cent higher.