THE TIMES today notes that Equitable Life's finance director Charles Bellringer will get a £175,000 ...
THE TIMES today notes that Equitable Life's finance director Charles Bellringer will get a £175,000 sticky plaster for leaving the company just two weeks after 50,000 members saw their income cut by up to 30%.
The payments is due to "contractual obligations", ie that Bellringer has six months left on his contract, but it is no surprise that politicians have already called the move a "disgrace" and that a motion has been tabled to discuss the issue in Parliament tomorrow.
THE DAILY Telegraph adds another word: "obscene", as used by Equitable policyholders to describe the pay-off.
It further quotes Paul Briathwaite, general secretary of the Equitable Members Action Group as saying: "What does the board think it is doing paying bonuses to directors who quit the society when pensioners are losing their life savings?"
PERHAPS THE best comment award should go to The Scotsman, which today says that "Equitable Life continues to sway about distressingly like a landlubber on deck manoeuvres on a skiff going around Cape Horn."
"There is a gradually growing body of opinion - still a minority, however - which believes Equitable's policyholders might be better off if the society was allowed to slide into administrative receivership."
ANOTHER AREA in which MPs are pressing for change is regulation of equities analysts, The Times also says.
MPs are intent on forcing the FSA to take a closer look at whether analysts undermined the market in the same way their peers in the US did by issuing positive notes about companies that their own bosses were trying to win investment banking business from.
FSA chairman Howard Davies earlier this year claimed that the regulator believed such activities were far more limited in London, although an investigation is yet to be completed.
However, he the appearance of a smoking gun in the form of an internal Goldman Sachs email commenting on pressure to write notes that would benefit the company's investment banking arm has raised the blood pressure of MPs already critical of the FSA's handling of the split capital investment trust issue.
MEANWHILE, SAYS the FT, regulators the US have announced the size of the first fines set to be levied against investment banks for their role in publishing favourable equity analyst notes in return for investment banking business.
The $50m to $75m fines for Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Piper Jaffray, Deutsche Bank and Thomas Weisel Partners are lower than previously expected, but could still cripple the smaller players.
Thomas Weisel Partners last year turned over just $52m worth of business in its third quarter, so a $50m fine could cripple the company, the FT says.
Citigroup is expected to get a $500m fine.
JAPAN IS in the news again for the wrong reasons, the FT says, because interim results from leading insurers there show their solvency margins have been further cut by the stock market downturn this year.
Seven life insurance companies have gone bust since 1997, the FT says, and with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index hitting a 19-year low earlier this month the value of remaining assets has decreased dramatically.
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