Legal & General Names Ex-Resolution Executive as M&A Director

Legal & General Group Plc, the biggest investor in the U.K. stock market, appointed former Resolution Plc executive Wadham Downing as merger and acquisitions director as it prepares for small deals.

Downing, 45, who worked for Britannic Group before it merged with Clive Cowdery’s Resolution, takes the newly created job after serving as interim chief financial officer at the insurer, London-based Legal & General said in a statement today.

The firm will pursue “a selective mergers and acquisition strategy meeting strict and attractive criteria,” Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wilson said in the statement. Wilson said he is looking for “bolt-on” acquisitions on Aug. 7.

Legal & General has been raising its dividend and generating more cash for investors over the past three years by exiting unprofitable businesses and focusing on growing its annuities and savings divisions, which have higher profit margins. Wilson said he plans to use some of this cash for small acquisitions in areas such as non-life insurance and digital savings technology.

Legal & General’s last acquisition was Suffolk Life, a firm specializing in self-invested personal pensions, in 2008. It paid 62 million pounds ($99 million) for the company.

The insurer’s search for a permanent CFO to replace Wilson, who was promoted to CEO in June, is proceeding “according to plan,” it said in the statement.

The stock rose 1.5 percent to 151.3 pence a share at 3:13 p.m. in London, valuing the firm at about 8.9 billion pounds.

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