Cowdery's Resolution vehicle on look-outfor deals

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The Independent Online

The entrepreneur Clive Cowdery is planning a string of multi-billion-pound deals across Europe for his new acquisitions vehicle. The vehicle bears the Resolution name, which Mr Cowdery has retained following the £4.5bn sale of Resolution Group – which he chaired – to Hugh Osmond's Pearl. That deal completed yesterday.

Mr Cowdery made around £150m from his 3 per cent stake in Resolution, which he built into a FTSE 100 company by buying up and consolidating closed life insurance businesses. Pearl ultimately won control of the business after a takeover battle with Standard Life.

Mr Cowdery now has 100 per cent ownership of the new Resolution, but will bring co-investors with him on deals and plans to list "shell" companies in both London and Amsterdam to allow public investors to come in alongside him.

Mr Cowdery said: "The expansion of financial services has come to a juddering halt. That has left companies that are too complex and too thinly spread. These companies are going to need some pretty major restructuring going forward and that is what we will seek to do. This is a very exciting opportunity.

"The other development that has happened has been the standardisation of legislation and regulatory practice in several European countries. That works strongly in our favour."

Mr Cowdery identified Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian nations, alongside the UK, as offering the best prospects for deals because of the way regulators have developed. But he added: "I wouldn't rule out Italy and particularly Spain, or anywhere else in Europe, but the risks are higher when you step outside of that zone.

"There are more than 300 financial firms, and that gives us a very, very wide area in which to focus our attentions."

Mr Cowdery said he would seek to build teams to join him on deals and run the companies that are taken over.

On his target list are banks, asset managers and also insurers, both life and general.

He said the shell companies, which will be mirror images of each other with one denominated in sterling and the other in euros, would be launched alongside Resolution's first deal.

While Mr Cowdery is interested in full-scale takeovers, Resolution could also take substantial stakes in companies "to support the realisation of agreed objectives" or co-invest with public companies for "specific M&A and growth opportunities".

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