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US giant MetLife set for UK move

US insurer MetLife is set to follow American rival Hart-ford Life into the UK market with onshore and offshore investment bonds and a Sipp product.

MetLife is preparing a move into the UK by the second quarter. The firm is lining up a series of external fund links for its bond offerings and is in discussions with a number of major UK fund managers.

Schroders and Jupiter confirm that they are in talks with MetLife, which has also app-roached a number of boutique fund managers, including Liontrust. MetLife has hired former AIG head of distribution Mike Phillips to build a UK sales team and is expected to run the products from an admin base in Dublin.

Its last foray into the UK market was cut short in the late 1990s when the firm sold its onshore and offshore businesses to Canada Life.

Liontrust marketing director Jonathan Harbottle says: “We are about to discuss poss- ibilities with them and we shall see what happens but it is too early to say whether the conversations will turn into real business or not.”

Dennehy Weller managing director Brian Dennehy says: “I am not sure what the marketplace is like for companies such as MetLife. Why would advisers choose a name with no UK resonance and one that has already withdrawn once from the UK market when they can choose a household name for invest- ment bonds such as Scottish Widows?”

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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