STANDARD LIFE MEMBERS are to be offered the opportunity to buy cheaper shares as part of the insurance giant's planned flotation, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
According to the paper, all seven million members of the mutual insurer are expected to be offered shares at a discounted price as part of the group's drive to promote loyalty under the long-awaited demutualisation and encourage people to buy extra shares on top of their windfall entitlement.
Standard Life also pledged to try to stop members selling their shares in early trading after the summer float by promising an extra "loyalty" share for every 20 received if they hold the stock for at least 12 months.
Details of the planned flotation will be published today as chief executive Sandy Crombie makes a final push for members to vote Yes. At least 75% of the votes must be cast in favour for the flotation to proceed. After 39 years with the group and two years of planning, he said last week he would resign if it did not go ahead.
If successful, the Standard Life flotation will be one of the biggest of the year, valuing the group close to the top 50 companies in the FTSE 100 index and making it one of the largest listed insurers in the world.
A SHORTAGE OF candidates for a broad range of financial services jobs is helping to push up wages in the sector, a survey released today shows, reports The Financial Times.
Blomfield Group, a recruitment services provider, said that there were only 6.2 applicants for every 10 vacant positions in the support operations of financial institutions, a ratio of 0.62. Meanwhile, investment management, sales and trading had a ratio of 0.66 while accountancy and finance had a ratio of 0.71.
According to Blomfield, there are not enough candidates across all disciplines in the financial services sector, though the shortage is less marked in compliance, human resources, marketing and facilities, a grouping that has a ratio of 0.89.
The survey also shows average salaries in the financial services hotspots of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow and Dublin, have risen from £34,048 in December to £34,555 in March, an increase of £507.
AND BRITAIN’S BIGGEST pension funds are being advised to increase their investments in private equity deals, further fuelling the boom in highly indebted corporate takeovers, reports The Times.
Leading actuarial consultants suggest some big UK pension funds should more than double the percentage of their assets they invest in private equity. An increase in investment by the pension funds would add to fears the sector could be forming a bubble.
Already this year, the amount of money raised in the first quarter in private equity funds globally is 56% higher than for the same period last year at $81bn (£46bn), pointing to another record year for fundraising.
Mercers, the actuarial consultant, says pension funds which hold any assets in private equity tend to keep their investments down to 3% of assets. However, consultants believe that the proportion for some funds should be about 5 to 10%.
Andrew Green, head of investment strategy for Mercers, is quoted as saying: “One in five funds with more than £500m under management invest in private equity. We expect the allocation into private equity to continue to grow, but not as fast as other alternative assets.”
Watson Wyatt, another of Britain’s biggest pension advisers, argues that large pension funds should put just 20% of their assets into shares. Instead, they should invest heavily in alternative assets such as hedge funds, commodities, private equity, junk bonds and infrastructure funds.
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