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Advisers say Friends chief’s resignation casts doubt over firm’s future independence

Advisers say Friends Provident group chief executive Philip Moore’s decision to quit is unsurprising, after the failed bid for Resolution, and indicates the firm has “lost its way”.

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says Moore’s resignation is no real surprise. He says: “After moves such as the failed bid for Resolution you do find chief executives falling on their swords, so to speak, because their authority or course of action has failed.”

But speculation as to the future of the life office, which has been rife since the Resolution deal fell through, has intensified.

Lakey says: “I don’t think Friends has a long term future. It seems to have lost its way and I can’t understand its strategy. I always thought when Friends demutualised a few years back it wasn’t a long-term thing because, on the world stage, the company is quite small. Whether right or wrong only large companies with economies of scale survive on the world stage.”

Moore announced his resignation this morning. Until a permanent successor is appointed, Sir Adrian Montague will take on the role of executive chairman. Friends says that group finance director Jim Smart will work with Sir Adrian Montague to lead a detailed review of the group’s strategic options.

Ben Gunn and Alain Grisay will continue to lead, respectively, the group’s life & pensions and asset management businesses. The Board intends to update shareholders on the strategic review by the time of the fourth quarter new business results at the end of January.

Sir Adrian Montague says: “This has been a challenging year for the group and its management team. We remain confident of the group’s prospects. However, it is right that we should take a hard look at the group’s strategy to ensure that we are delivering the highest value available to our shareholders.

“The Board has concluded that this requires a change in the management team. Philip Moore has been with the group since 2003, first as Group Finance Director and then as Group Chief Executive. I would like to thank Philip for the substantial contribution he has made to Friends Provident and wish him well for the future.”

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