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Friends teams up with Tesco

BRITISH life insurer Friends Provident reported a 40-percent drop in first-quarter sales, but said a new deal to sell insurance through Britain's biggest retailer Tesco should help future performance.

Total life and pensions sales for the three months to the end of March fell to 109 million pounds (US$159 million) as the recession took its toll on consumers and as Friends Provident withdrew from less profitable areas of the market.

The insurer also reported a decline in its capital surplus to 800 million pounds from 850 million pounds at end of December. But Friends said it remained better protected against corporate bond defaults than its peers, with total reserves of 550 million pounds compared with a bond portfolio of 1.9 billion pounds.

Under the deal with Tesco, Friends will provide protection insurance products for the retailer's personal finance division.

Shares in British life insurers have fallen steeply since the start of the year.


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