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Pearl set to clinch victory in battle for Resolution

Pearl looks set to win the long and bitter battle for Resolution after Standard Life withdrew its offer and conceded defeat.

Standard said it would not raise its £4.6bn cash and shares offer on Monday although it still believed it offered better value than Pearl.

It said: “The board has concluded that a revised offer would not create sufficient value for Standard Life shareholders at a level that is likely to be successful.”

The value of Standard’s offer had fallen significantly in real terms after its share price slumped to its lowest level since flotation last June. Its share price surged by 6.5 per cent on the news by close on Monday.

Resolution has confirmed it is locked in talks with Pearl but has not recommended its £4.9bn cash offer to shareholders. Pearl increased its stake in Resolution from 24.2 to 25.93 per cent on Monday afternoon.

Reports suggest Resolution chief Clive Cowdery will recommend a deal if Pearl raises its offer. The deal will then be finalised quickly, freeing Cowdery to launch another buyout vehicle.

Blue Planet Investment Management assistant investment manager Harish Haridas says the well publicised clash of personalities between Cowdery and Pearl chief executive Hugh Osmond will be a significant factor in the deal.

In 2005, Osmond bought Pearl’s £26bn closed funds from under Cowdery’s nose and there has been sniping between the two camps in the various regulated announcements surrounding the bids.

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says: “Pearl has shown a remarkable change of approach from its past iceberg communication strategy. The personality clash makes the affair more colourful but they are both businessmen at the end of the day and if the deal is right, the deal will get done.”

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