Friends Life searching for international arm buyer
1st October, 2014
Insurance giant Friends Life has appointed Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for its international arm as the company’s focus shifts back to UK business. The pension group Friends Provident International currently provides life insurance and investment products in Asia and the Middle East and an international sale is expected to fetch up to £600 million.
Entrepreneur Clive Cowdery, who founded the FLI group as a buyer of UK life assurance funds, urged it to consider selling its assets overseas. Goldman's appointment as seller follows the insurer's sale of its Luxembourg based tax-planning arm last month. This sold for around £320 million. Both Friends Life and Goldman Sachs have declined to comment on the latest development
Friends Life shares have suffered considerably since Chancellor George Osborne's decision earlier this year to reform the UK pensions system. Group-wide operating profits have dropped by seven per cent, the group disclosed two weeks ago. This is since it was announced that British retirees would be both free to draw on their pension pots and free to compare life insurance quotes and switch deal,s rather than being tied into an annuity.
Friends Life chief executive Andy Briggs has said that despite the problems the group is facing, it still has a strong future in the UK retirement market.