Standard Life head of UK retail Trevor Matthews has quit to join Friends Provident as group chief executive.
Matthews joined Standard in 2004 as life and pensions chief executive, leading the dramatic restructure of the firm’s life and pensions business. He was a front-runner to replace Sandy Crombie as chief executive when he stands down. Crombie will take on Matthews’ responsibilities for an interim period.
The position of Friends chief executive has been vacant since Philip Moore resigned in November after the failed merger with Resolution. Friends is expected to announce a partial break-up of the company this week as part of a strategic review which may see it sell its stake in F&C Asset Management.
It could raise £500m to £600m if it sells its 53 per cent stake in the fund firm. It may also sell its high-net-worth business Lombard to raise between £500m and £700m.
The appointment of Matthews would be seen as an attempt to defend Friends against a possible takeover from JC Flowers which has built up a 2.7 per cent stake in the firm.
Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Mark Dampier says: “It is a shame for Standard Life. We think Matthews is a really talented individual. Any insurance company that gets him will get a real shake-up, which is what the industry needs.”