Hugh Osmond Resigns From Phoenix Board With Targets ‘On Track’

Hugh Osmond, British founder of the U.K. restaurant chain Pizza Express, stepped down as a director of Phoenix Group Holdings Plc (PHNX) after eight years at the company he created.

Osmond’s resignation from the U.K.’s biggest manager of life insurance funds that are closed to new customers, came as the Jersey-based company said in a statement today it’s “on track” to meet its financial targets. Osmond, 51, is the company’s second-biggest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“I am very sad to be stepping down from the board after eight years of continuous service, but extremely pleased with the state of the company that I am leaving, Osmond said in a separate statement.

Talks to combine the company with Swiss Re Ltd.’s closed-life unit Admin Re business are continuing, Chief Executive Officer Clive Bannister said in a telephone interview in London. Phoenix has surged 14 percent since the world’s second-largest reinsurer said on July 12 it may merge the unit and take a minority stake as payment. In the first-half, Phoenix raised 250 million pounds ($389 million) of capital and repaid 450 million pounds of debt, the company said.

‘Stronger Position’

‘‘The first six months of the year has been transformational,” Bannister said. “We are now in a much better and stronger position to consider the future of growth of the company.” There is as much as 200 billion pounds worth of closed-life business in the U.K. that could potentially be acquired, he said.

The stock was down 0.5 percent to 741.5 pence at 11:45 a.m. in London, valuing the insurer at 1.72 billion pounds.

Phoenix generated cash of 416 million pounds and is on schedule to reach its full-year target of as much as 750 million pounds, the insurer said. The company raised its dividend 27 percent to 26.7 pence a share, in line with the 2012 final payment.

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