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Phoenix in £1bn private equity talks

Phoenix Group is in earlystage discussions with private-equity firm CVC Capital over a possible £1bn takeover.

The closed life provider had previously been in talks with Clive Cowdrey’s consolidation vehicle Resolution over a £1.2bn deal, valuing the firm at a 40 per cent premium to its current stockmarket price.

Following an article in the Sunday Times, Resolution and Phoenix were both forced to admit that talks had been held but had been terminated.

Phoenix Group director of communications Daniel Godfrey says: “We get approaches from time to time from people who think there is a deal to be done. We are obliged to consider those approaches. In this case, there was an approach from Resolution which was leaked. That process was then terminated by Resolution.

“We are not actively seeking buyers because we have a strong business with a great business model.

“We have had an approach from CVC and we are having discussions with them to see if it would be appropriate for them to make an offer.”

A CVC spokesman says: “The talks between CVC and Phoenix are at an early stage and no formal bid has been made.”

Hargreaves Lansdown pension investment manager Laith Khalaf says: “This creates more uncertainty for Phoenix customers because there is no indication as to what CVC wants to do with the company if they buy it.

“Phoenix is itself a conglomeration of different life offices that have been swallowed up over the years, so the prospect of being passed on again to someone else is likely to concern policyholders.”

Phoenix is the second major insurer to attract attention from a private-equity investment vehicle this year.

In September, a proposed £205m deal between James Hay parent IFG and Bregal Capital ended due to “dislocation in global markets”.



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Those with decent-length memories will recall that in the 2014 Budget statement George Osborne announced the new (and entirely unexpected) pension freedoms. The new rules come fully into force in less than two weeks.


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