British insurer Britannic Group and specialist closed life fund investor Resolution have merged in a deal valued at GBP1.8 billion. Analysts predict that the merged group will be a powerful force for consolidation in the rapidly-expanding closed life market.

The deal will create one of the largest UK specialist closed life fund businesses, described by Resolution head Clive Cowdery as a compelling consolidator in the UK closed life sector.

The merged group will combine GBP35 billion of company assets and approximately six million insurance policies, Britannic confirmed in a statement. The new group will work under the Resolution name and brand, it said.

Britannic shareholders will represent 54.5% of the combined group, and Resolution shareholders 45.5%. Britannia said the merged group would aim to generate pre-tax operating profits of at least GBP30 million by the end of 2007, including GBP20 million in cost savings.

Clive Cowdery, existing Resolution chief executive, has been named as executive chairman of the merged group, while Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Britannic, will take on the role of group chief executive.

Analysts predict that the merged group will have the financial sway to compete for deals in the rapidly-expanding closed life market, and buy up smaller closed life funds.

Britannic said the merger will also create a stronger platform to develop asset management and life insurance administrative services, as well as a stronger dividend policy.