The business on: Clive Cowdery, Resolution founder

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Another fat-cat businessman?

Don't be rude. Mr Cowdery is an entrepreneur who built his buyout vehicle Resolution into a force to be reckoned with, not once but twice. He launched the business in 2004, floated it on the stock market in 2005 and then flogged it to Pearl for £5bn, a pretty full price, two years later. But he kept the name and relaunched the business last year. And for your information, he's lost a great deal of weight in recent years. Once known as "Big Clive" in the City, this would-be insurance tycoon has shaped up.

So what's he up to now?

Resolution is plotting the £2.8bn purchase of the UK life assurance business of Axa – the two companies say a deal could be announced within a week. Mr Cowdery wants to merge the business with Friends Provident, the insurer Resolution bought last summer, with all the potential that has for economies of scale.

Sounds like code for job losses?

Maybe, but though Mr Cowdery is undoubtedly hard-headed, don't assume that's all there is to him. He used a good deal of the money from the Pearl sale to start the Resolution Foundation, a charity that works with Britons on low incomes.

Putting something back then?

Well, Mr Cowdery has described himself as "a privileged beneficiary of the welfare state". One of five children, he was brought up by a single mother in Cornwall who relied on state support to get by. Mr Cowdery has been passionate about issues of social exclusion ever since.

What a saint

Steady on. Resolution has faced some criticism for setting up shop in Guernsey this time around, which will see it face much lower tax bills if and when it finally sells up its assets at a chunky profit.

He's obviously a smart guy

Indeed. The Bristol accent and his lack of university education have misled many a rival into underestimating him over the years. Axa's negotiators would be wise not to make the same mistake.