Going down: Sun Life & Provincial

SHARES in Sun Life and Provincial Holdings, Britain's fourth largest insurer, fell 15 per cent on fears that a new government pension initiative will cause them to lose market share to fund management companies. The Government has proposed an investment vehicle that will enable people to invest in mutual funds and unit trusts as part of their pension planning.

The fall in the share price could pose problems for Sun Life in the proposed takeover of Guardian Royal Exchange. Part of its offer for GRE is based on shares, and if the price continues falling, it could trigger a counterbid. Eureko, a consortium of six European insurers led by mutual Friends Provident is seen as one potential rival.