LONDON May 1 Clive Cowdery, the entrepreneur
who sold life insurer Resolution last year, is planning a new
restructuring venture targeting European financial firms from
banks to asset managers as the credit crunch batters the sector.
Cowdery, who retained the Resolution name after the
insurance operations were bought by rival Pearl, said on
Thursday he sees investment opportunities as the financial
sector consolidates and changes, with the market turmoil of
recent months offering "icing on the cake".
"The reality is the environment is much better today,"
Cowdery told Reuters in an interview.
"Firstly, you have thinly spread financial groups in the UK
and Europe which require restructuring and secondly, you have a
standardised set of rules."
Cowdery, who headed up GE's (GE.N) insurance operations in
Europe until he founded Resolution, said he was looking at 7
economies in Europe, including Scandinavia, Ireland, the
Netherlands and Germany, with opportunities in Italy and Spain.
He declined to comment on any targets, but said investments
could include significant stakes in listed firms, partnerships
and even outright buyouts.
The group continues to target an internal rate of return
(IRR) in the "mid-teens", he said, but could beat that.
"The tide has turned temporarily and there might be the
opportunity for excess returns over that," Cowdery said.
"But the current market sell-off is not the base case -- it
offers an enhancement to base case returns."
Resolution has not raised a specific amount in advance of
deals via a blind fund, but expects to tap "very substantial"
appetite in capital market as the venture progresses.
Cowdery expects to eventually relist Resolution on the stock
market, but said the timing would depend on the type and
structure of transactions.
(Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by David Cowell)