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Britannic reassures market of its solvency after market slide; STATEMENT: Financial services group quashes rumours.

FINANCIAL services group Britannic yesterday sought to reassure investors that it was solvent following speculation that stock market falls had forced it to sell equities.

There had been rumours that Britannic was in difficulties following the FTSE 100 Index's dive below the 4,200 mark.

But chairman Harold Cottam said, ``We certainly aren't insolvent. We monitor solvency on a regular basis and make sure our assets match our liabilities.

``We are not forced sellers of equities.''

He added the group's free asset ratio - the level of assets remaining after liabilities and solvency margins have been met - was currently being calculated but was expected to remain at the 10pc level reported in December.

During the past 18 months the group has reduced its equity holdings from 70pc of its assets to around 65pc, it said. The Birmingham-based group also revealed it had called off talks with potential merger partners.

In May Britannic said it was looking for a partner to help it expand and take advantage of the changing savings market.

But yesterday it said in current market conditions it was unlikely that ``full value'' could be achieved through an offer for the group as a whole, and discussions with potential parties had been ended.

Instead it plans to focus on organic growth and niche acquisitions.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 18, 2002
Words:215
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