US private equity firm JC Flowers and French insurer Axa, are planning to purchase Friends Provident, according to an article in the Financial Times. The paper said, however, the process is only at an embryonic stage.
Yesterday shares in Friends Provident rose by 8.4 percent to 210p. This values the group at £5 billion.
JC Flowers has reportedly already offered 250p-a-share but that Friends Provident was looking for an offer at 300p. This would value the group at £8.5 billion.
Vulnerability to a bid was increased after F&C warned on profit in January and Friends Provident warned in March that they could be challenged to meet demanding profit targets for the UK.
F&C, the asset management division of Friends Provident, acquired Martin Currie Management’s private equity fund of funds team in June 2005 to provide the basis for a fund of funds team at F&C.
Friends Provident would not comment on the rumours.