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Friends says Resolution deal still on as sales rise

Friends Provident insists its £8.4bn merger plans with Resolution are still on track although it admits it will consider any deal that offers better value to its shareholders.

Friends life and pensions chief executive Ben Gunn was keen to reinforce the firm’s commitment as it revealed interim profit growth of 7 per cent.

He says: “The boards of both companies remain absolutely committed to this deal. If anyone believes they can find additional value above what this merger creates for both sets of shareholders, then the board will have a fiduciary duty to consider that.”

UK life and pension sales rose by 12 per cent from £2.02bn to £2.25bn in the first half. Individual pension business rose by 85 per cent from £137m to £256m, which Gunn attributes to a focus on the single-premium market. Group pension sales were up by 11 per cent but investment business fell by 26 per cent from £364m to £268m with Friends admitting that it has been uncompetitive in “an aggressive market”.

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