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JC Flowers lines up financing for Friends offer

US buyout firm J.C. Flowers stood by its Ł3.5 billion ($7 billion) proposal to take over British life insurer Friends Provident, and said it had lined up financing for a possible offer.

Monday's statement, the group's first since its 150 pence-a-share takeover proposal was made public and spurned by Friends last week, will allow Flowers to meet the insurer's shareholders.

Flowers said it would fund a cash offer with debt and equity and said it had received letters from banks Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup indicating “based on certain assumptions and subject to certain conditions, they are highly confident of their ability to underwrite the debt component of the acquisition consideration.”

It said the majority of the financing would be equity, provided by J.C. Flowers and other co-investors. J.C. Flowers has available capital in excess of $6 billion, it said.

Flowers, which has a 2.7% stake in Friends, said it had paid an average price of 155 pence and up to 165 pence per share, meaning it would have to seek permission from the Takeover Panel to make an offer below 165 pence.

Flowers, which has sought meetings with Friends since it expressed an interest in the firm in January, said it had requested “direct engagement” and due diligence access.

Britain's takeover regulator said last week that Flowers must make an offer for Friends by the end of April or walk away.

Flowers has lined up a group of advisors including former Prudential chairman Martin Jacomb, whom it said would join Friends' board as non-executives if the deal went ahead. (Reuters)