Life insurer Phoenix's chairman to step down, join RBS

By Richa Naidu

Feb 26 (Reuters) - British life insurer Phoenix Group Holdings said Chairman Howard Davies would step down at the end of August to head the board at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc.

Phoenix, which makes money by buying European life insurers that are closed to new customers and running them more efficiently, has begun looking for a new chairman, it said in a statement.

The company has been operating in a closely-watched market in recent months due to increasing consolidation in the global life insurance industry, most notably the $8.8 billion takeover of life group Friends Life by Aviva.

Due to its private equity-like business model and the strong cash position it forecast in October, Phoenix is seen as a potential acquirer in the current buy-or-be-bought environment.

Berenberg analyst Matthew Preston said Davies' move would merely mean an "unhelpful distraction" for Phoenix, and that the company had ample time to find a replacement.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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