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Regulator probes Cowdery and Resolution directors

The FSA is investigating Resolution founder Clive Cowdery and four former Resolution plc directors for “certain actions” undertaken between October 2007 and May 2008 during the completion of the firm’s sale to Pearl.

Neither the FSA nor Cowdery’s new firm, Resolution Limited, would give details. Former directors Mike Biggs, now chairman of Resolution Ltd, and Jim Newman, Ian Maidens and Brendan Meehan, who work at subsidiary Resolution Operations, are also under investigation. Former FSA chief executive John Tiner, recruited by Cowdery last August, is not involved in the probe.

Resolution Ltd, which raised £650m from investors in December, confirmed it would not make any acquisitions until the investigation is complete. Its share price fell by 17 per cent on Tuesday.

Resolution initially proposed a £8.5bn merger with Friends Provident in July 2007 but within a day Pearl emerged as the firm’s biggest shareholder and director Hugh Osmond publicly opposed the Friends’ deal. In October, Standard Life agreed a £4.9bn offer for Resolution. Within an hour Pearl, which had bought a 25 per cent stake, tabled a £5bn cash bid, trumping Standard’s proposal. In December 2007, Cowdery sold his 3 per cent stake in the firm for around £145m. The Pearl deal comp- leted in May 2008.

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