Standard Life, the UK's fifth largest insurer understood to be eyeing a potential bid for closed-fund group Resolution, crashed through City forecasts in the first half, posting a 31% surge in worldwide life and pensions sales to almost £8.2bn, The Times reports.
The bumper sales figure, against forecasts of £7.87 billion, was driven by a huge increase in UK business, in particular of self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs).
David Nish, the finance director, promised a "significant increase" in profit margins in the UK over the first half, driven by the success of Sipps and booming sales volumes.
A ROYAL BANK of Scotland-led consortium today moved closer to clinching a €71bn (£48bn) deal for Dutch bank, ABN Amro, after Fortis, a member of the group, won more than 90% backing from Belgian and Dutch shareholders for the bid at meetings in Brussels and Utrecht, according to The Guardian.
Fortis is slated to take over a third of ABN, mainly its Dutch operations, under the consortium offer which is worth 10.4% more than the €63.7bn bid from rival Barclays, formally launched today. The Barclays bid, which was approved by the European commission, is also worth less than the cash element alone in the RBS offer.
In Utrecht 96% of shareholders backed both Fortis's participation in the transaction and the board's proposal for a €13bn rights issue to fund its €24bn share of the consortium bid. Earlier, 95.5% in Brussels backed the overall deal and 93.5% supported the capital-raising as a mooted rebellion by hedge funds failed to materialise. Turnout was 35% in Brussels and 39% in Utrecht.
THE HALIFAX BANK of Scotland group put itself in position yesterday to capitalise on Government plans to ratchet up spending on affordable housing with the financing of a £410m buyout of Apollo, a specialist refurbisher of council housing and schools, The Independent reports.
Gordon Brown unveiled plans last month to invest £13.5bn in social and affordable housing. Apollo makes most of its money refurbishing council housing in the South under the Decent Homes Standard, a programme to bring all social housing up to a minimal standard by 2010. The Prime Minister's new scheme will open another multi-billion pound spigot from which the company can benefit. Apollo also builds and refurbishes schools.
HBOS is already a major player in the property market through its ownership of retirement home builder McCarthy & Stone and residential developer Crest Nicholson. Under the deal it gains a 20.5 per cent stake in Apollo, which plans to use the new equity and debt infusion to grow organically as well as through acquisition. The remaining 79.5 per cent will be owned by management, led by Gary Crouch, the chief executive, and other employees.
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