Friends grabs 30% of Malaysia life firm in £30m deal

Troubled life and pensions firm Friends Provident today snapped up a 30 per cent stake in a Malaysian life business for £30million. but the bold move to buy the stake in Amlife Insurance Berhad AMMB Holdings Berhad, which comes four months after Trevor Matthews became chief executive, failed to please the City.

Friends shares fell 2.4p to 70.6p. The stock has crashed from a high of nearly 170p this year amid ongoing concerns about the state of the sector and the future of Friends itself.

The 30 per cent stake gives Friends exposure to AmAssurance, the well-established Life and General insurance joint-venture of AMMB and Insurance Australia Group with assets of £349million.

Friends Provident

Deal: Friends Provident has bought a 30 per cent stake in a Malaysian life business

Matthews said: 'I am excited about our new investment... This is further evidence of our commitment to international growth in general and to Asia in particular. It is a modest investment but an important strategic development.'

The agreement has been approved by the Malaysian regulators and includes provision for a potential future increase in Friends' stake.

Friends' share price has been in free fall since the group failed to merge with closed life operator Resolution Group last year.

Early this month it moved to assure the market about its financial health, but abandoned plans to sell its wealth management division Lombard International and its 52 per cent stake in asset manager F&C, following a nine-month search for buyers.

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