Friends Provident chief-elect already fears for his job

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Trevor Matthews, the incoming chief executive of ailing insurer Friends Provident, has revealed his fears that his new job might have disappeared before his scheduled starting date in six months' time.

Last week, Friends Provident disclosed it was axing up to 600 jobs in a shake-up that is likely to involve the sale of tracts of its business, including the venerable fund management arm, F&C.

The firm is also believed to be a bid target for a number of suitors, including the American private equity group JC Flowers.

Just days before Friends Provident's announcement, Mr Matthews said he was quitting Standard Life after four successful years as head of its life and pensions business. However, under the terms of his contract, he is unable to take up his new role until the summer, by which time the company could have disappeared in its current form.

"Yes, it does concern me somewhat," said Mr Matthews, who dismissed suggestions that his exit from Standard Life was acrimonious. "Look, I've read the comments in many of the papers but there really is no truth in them. They [Standard Life] have acted perfectly reasonably. There are conversations ongoing between by new and old employers about my six months' gardening leave, but that's really nothing to do with me."

However, sources close to the group claimed that personal dislike between Mr Matthews and chief executive Sandy Crombie was an open secret.

"There clearly wasn't a lot of love there," said one. "Trevor offered a very different approach and really got into people's faces, which didn't always go down well. He was sidelined during the failed takeover of Resolution, which was probably a good thing for him. Crombie now has to say when he plans to go – it's causing too much uncertainty."