RESOLUTION AND FRIENDS Provident, the UK insurers that are working on an £8bn merger of equals, are bracing themselves for a private equity buyer to try to break up their agreed deal, The Times reports.
Speculation mounted yesterday that JC Flowers, the American private investment firm, planned to combine with an overseas trade buyer to thwart the merger.
Friends Provident and Resolution confirmed yesterday that they were in advanced merger talks, fuelling expectation of a fresh private equity bid. A senior source in the insurance market said: “Private equity has got to have a look at this. They can’t not. It would be a no-brainer.”
THE DIRECTORS OF the UK Balanced Property Trust vindicated their decision to fight off a proposal to liquidate the fund yesterday, as they announced they had sold the trust's portfolio of properties for a 3.7% premium to the fund's net asset value, according to The Independent.
Scottish Widows Unit Funds Limited (SWUF), the investment trust's largest shareholder and former manager, had been putting pressure on the directors for several months after the trust's share price drifted to well over 10% of its net asset value.
In May, SWUF requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting at which it planned to table motions to remove the fund's directors and to force the trust to liquidate.
THE INCREASING DOMINANCE of the housing market in the British economy was revealed yesterday when the government released figures showing that 60% of the country's £6.5trn wealth was now tied up in property, The Guardian reports.
In its annual snapshot of the UK's financial and non-financial assets, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the cost of buying the country on the open market had risen by more than 5% - a £326bn increase - in 2005.
The ONS figures show, however, that the increase was more than accounted for by the market value of Britain's housing stock, which has risen by more than two and a half times during the property boom of the past decade.
The Halifax, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, says the average cost of buying a home was well under £100,000 when Labour came to power but is now nudging £200,000.
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