Resolution’s Clive Cowdery and his arch-rival Hugh Osmond are expected to meet on Friday as Resolution challenged Mr Osmond to declare his intentions after he amassed a 16.5 per cent interest in the closed life fund specialist.

The two men have been trying to arrange the meeting since Mr Osmond disclosed his interest in Resolution, threatening to derail its planned £8.3bn merger with Friends Provident and leaving open the possibility of a hostile bid for Resolution.

Mr Cowdery, chairman of Resolution, has written to Mr Osmond calling for him to explain his alternative proposals for Resolution, including the possibility of a cash offer. The move has left both sides in conflict over the agenda for Friday’s meeting.

The meeting was expected to take the form of a presentation by Resolution to Mr Osmond. But Mr Cowdery wrote to Mr Osmond on Wednesday, saying that Resolution had agreed not to solicit or initiate discussions about an alternative to the Friends merger.

He proposed a meeting involving himself and Mike Biggs, Resolution’s chief executive, to allow Mr Osmond to explain his alternative proposals for Resolution. The meeting could also be used to explain why the merger made sense. Mr Cowdery also told Mr Osmond he was welcome to make a proposal to the Resolution board at any time.

People close to Mr Osmond insisted he would not be pressured into action. He is therefore unlikely to set out any alternative proposals on Friday. Instead, he plans to listen to Resolution’s reasons for the merger with Friends, and take time to consider them.

Depending on the arguments presented, Mr Osmond has a number of options. These include supporting the Friends deal or putting forward alternatives. He has not ruled out a cash offer for Resolution.

Mr Osmond’s Pearl Group was expecting Friends executives to attend the meeting alongside Resolution on Friday, but Resolution would not confirm this.

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