LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - 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)