CA Summit 2008: No-one immune from corporate takeover activity now – Matthews

No financial service provider is immune from corporate takeover activity in today’s turbulent markets, says Trevor Matthews, chief executive of Friends Provident.

Matthews told delegates at the Corporate Adviser Summit in Hampshire last month that the lessons of AIG and HBOS meant that no provider could rule itself out of corporate activity.

Matthews said that the insurance sector needed to make sure it explained to consumers that it was a different sort of industry to the banking sector, and added that the experience of the last downturn, and the financial regulation that had been put in place since then, had stood the insurance sector in good stead through the recent market volatility.

Referring to the JC Flowers bids that had cast uncertainty over the company, Matthews said: “The six month period for Mr Flowers to put in another bid passed last Saturday morning and nothing came through the letterbox. He has probably got more on his plate right now.
“The world has changed. No-one can say they are immune now. The mighty AIG is testament to that. I don’t take it from anyone now that they are immune from corporate activity.
“These are extreme times and the protection that was put in place for life companies after 2002 means that we should be alright. We saw MetLife and The Hartford going to investors for £2.5bn of support. This is because they have been chasing an extra yield in their fund more aggressively than their counterparts in the UK.
“But one thing I will say is that, particularly since our restructure, we are committed to the corporate pensions market.”