Countrywide Assured acquires Friends Provident Estate Agencies

Countrywide Assured has acquired the 104 estate agents from Friends Provident for £12 million under a deal that will see the UK&#39s largest estate agency chain distribute the life insurers mortgage-related protection products through its 700 branches.

The exclusive right, under a 15-year agreement, to distribute mortgage-related protection products through Countrywide&#39s 700 estate agency branches and its 650 licensed consultants. As a result of entering into this exclusive tie, Countrywide will cease to manufacture these products. The 45 financial services consultants in FPEA will continue to sell Friends Provident mortgage-related products under the new 15-year agreement.

Following Friends Provident&#39s recent acquisitions, this partnership further progresses the company&#39s strategy to grow its share of the life and pensions market profitably and also supports Friends Provident&#39s aim to expand and diversify distribution by working alongside key strategic partners.

The transaction is expected to be earnings enhancing for Friends Provident in 2003. In the first six months of 2002, Countrywide generated £8.9m of Annual Premium Equivalant in protection products and is committed to growth plans in connection with its core mortgage and property transaction related activity.

Countrywide has approximately 168,000 mortgage clients and there is potential to sell other life, pensions and investment products to Countrywide Financial Services&#39 customers in the future. Friends Provident is not purchasing Countrywide&#39s existing portfolio of business.

Ben Gunn, managing director of Friends Provident Life and Pensions Limited, says: “This exciting new partnership is with one of the UK&#39s largest national estate agencies and mortgage-related financial services distributors. We will continue to seek quality distribution opportunities of this type to build our life and pensions business. Countrywide is a successful operation and will provide a good source of additional new business with attractive margins and the potential for further business growth in the future.”