Financial services provider Friends Provident remains confident of a successful merger with UK general insurer Resolution - a deal reportedly worth GBP8.6 billion, despite industry rumors that rivals are considering making a takeover approach to Friends Provident that could potentially quash the merger deal.

Media reports recently revealed that a number of financial institutions were eyeing a possible takeover of Friends Provident, after Resolution’s largest shareholder Pearl objected to the merger deal.

According to the Financial Times, Philip Moore, chief executive of Friends Provident, said that the company would not completely dismiss offers that could create greater value than the proposed merger. However, he was confident that the merger would go ahead, and declined to reveal whether the group had received any approaches.

Mr Moore said: We are confident that the proposed merger with Resolution to form Friends Financial Group will add significantly to this position and deliver increased shareholder value. The combined group will apply its enhanced scale, distribution and financial capabilities to further capitalize on attractive opportunities in both the UK and international markets.

The news came as the group posted H1 2007 pre-tax profit of GBP264 million, representing a 7% jump compared to H1 2006.