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Friends Prov’s Matthews refuses to rule out takeover in 2009

Friends Provident chief executive Trevor Matthews has refused to rule out the possibility of the insurer being taken over in 2009.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on New Year’s Day, Matthews said that life insurance companies ended 2008 in “a pretty good position” compared to banks.

But, when asked whether he could say with confidence that his company would remain independent in 2009 he said:

“You know, I don’t think anyone can say that anymore.

“I think the events of the last 12 months really brought to the fore; you had some great icons that effectively disappeared during 2008.

“I think our company has a great chance of a very strong and profitable independent future; but a brave person, again, would… would be to predict that that’s necessarily always going to be the case. But our company’s in good condition.”

Matthews also said that the economic recovery will be slow, and warned that rising unemployment would impact life companies.

He added: “Our business depends on a regular flow of contributions from people who are employed, and therefore if employment goes down they’re affected somewhat.

“But not fundamentally and not… not fatally; it’s… it’s an irritation and an inconvenience, but it’s not a fundamental financial problem. Of course, it’s a… it’s a problem for the people who are unemployed.”

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