THE FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN, which is investigating Scottish Widows bonus payments to pension investors ...
THE FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN, which is investigating Scottish Widows bonus payments to pension investors with valuable annuity guarantees, is considering referring the matter to the courts in a move reminiscent of events at Equitable Life, says this morning's Financial Times.
The watchdog has received complaints from about a dozen policyholders, who say that payments have been less than those made to investors who do not have guaranteed annuities.
Scottish Widows defended its approach yesterday, insisting its lower bonus payouts were made to all pensions policies sold prior to February 1999, not just those with guaranteed annuity rates.
Scottish Widows has about 170,000 GAR policies in force. Investors in these plans are guaranteed a minimum level of income in retirement but the value of these guarantees has increased dramatically in recent years on the back of falling interest rates.
LAWYERS representing 700 investors who have lost millions of pounds in collapsing split capital trusts are set to take their class action against fund managers and brokers to the High Court, says the Scotsman.
Solicitors Class Law, acting for the investors who have lost more than £70 million, said they will ask for a group action case within weeks at the High Court alleging negligence against more than 100 defendants involved in advising or selling the trusts.
An additional 1,300 investors have also begun a legal action against split trust fund managers through law firm Leon Kaye, Kaye said. A further 600 have lodged complaints with the Financial Ombudsman.
Some 50,000 investors in total are estimated to have bought split capital trusts, usually to plan for school fees or retirement.
BANK of Ireland is prepared to offer a cash sweetener of up to £1.5bn in its proposed £15bn merger with Abbey National, Britain's sixth largest bank, suggests the Times.
The Irish bank is also determined to offer a premium to Abbey shareholders, which would take its offer to around 750p a share, compared with Friday's close of 622p.
Further details are expected to be revealed later this week by Bank of Ireland. The suitor wants to go public on the indicative offer that it made last month to Abbey's chairman, Lord Burns, with the hope of wooing Abbey's shareholders.
INSURANCE giant Prudential is to launch a fresh campaign to present a new multi-million pound pay package for chief executive Jonathan Bloomer - months after an embarrassing shareholder rebellion forced it to climb down, adds the Scotsman.
The new deal must win over dissenting shareholders who expressed anger over Bloomer's proposed pay package five months ago. Prudential was forced into a humiliating withdrawal of the proposals shortly before they were due to be voted on at the company's annual meeting.
Bloomer stood to receive a 44% leap in pay to £5.6 million. Rebel shareholders opposed the deal because they considered it too generous, and they were also concerned that it was not performance-related.
THE GOVERNMENT has already ruled out a fixed limit on the number of board seats an individual can hold, even though it is a core issue for the Higgs review examining the role and the responsibilities of non-executive directors, adds the FT.
The government's private stance may raise questions about the independence of the review by Derek Higgs, an investment banker and British Land director, who reports in December. But ministers are determined not to ape the US by trying to curb corporate excess through regulation. "We don't want a hard and fast rule on numbers, although there should be some guidance on the time a person can realistically spend [if they have multiple directorships]," a Department of Trade and Industry insider said.
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