NORWICH UNION is the latest company to "ditch" the pensions sector for more profitable business, reports this morning's Scotsman, after yesterday calling for large-scale deregulation of the pensions market.
In reporting Aviva’s latest financial results yesterday, the insurer said over-regulation was to blame for the lower returns generated by insurers from individual and group pensions, so it had deliberately chosen to allow its pensions market share to fall in order to increase profitability - as Standard Life has recently done.
In particular, chief executive Gary Withers claimed it was currently "easier to buy a house than a pension", meaning higher fees for independent financial advisers (IFAs), but this also comes at the same time as reporting pension sales fell 17% fall in pensions to £831m.
ON THE BACK of this, both NU and L&G are again predicting further consolidation over the next few years, continues the Scotsman, as the top five companies are battling for 8-12% of the market.
As a result, smaller companies will either have to find their niche or face being swallowed up by larger players, according to the firms.
PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair has already ruled out joining the euro until at least 2010, says the Guardian, even though the official announcement of the economic tests are not scheduled to be delivered by chancellor Gordon Brown until after the election.
Prior to the 2001 election, Blair committed the government to examining the Treasury's five economic tests for membership of monetary union within two years but Gordon Brown has since said only one of the tests had been passed.
THE FSA IS flexing its muscles again and has forced one the UK's biggest travel brokers into provisional liquidation last night, leaving thousands of consumers holding worthless travel insurance policies, continues the Guardian.
The Financial Services Authority said it has used its "public interest" powers to force Whiteley Insurance Consultants into liquidation at the high court, after it discovered they were selling policies not underwritten by an insurer.
The Halifax-based broker, which also traded as Kingfisher Travel Insurance and Kingfisher Insurance Services sold policies through specialist travel agents and tour groups.
MARCONI has suffered another major setback yesterday which has led to calls for the company to put itself up for sale, as it failed to win a BT contract and saw share plunge 39%, the Telegraph points out this morning.
The telecoms supplier failed to appear on BT’s list of eight preferred suppliers BT announced for its £10bn five-year project to overhaul its vast telephone and internet network.
Having already spent tens of millions on the bid, says the Telegraph, Marconi will now have to lay off 2,500 staff from a UK workforce of 4,500 in Coventry, Liverpool, Basildon and Beeston.
AND MORE THAN 250,000 private shareholders who lost millions of pounds when the government put Railtrack into administration have been dismissed by those same departments as "grannies” , continues the newspaper.
Leaked internal documents and emails between the Treasury, the Transport Department and the No 10 policy unit undermine the government’s assertion it did not provoke the collapse of Railtrack.
Two disparing documents in particular suggest the government had wanted to try and avoid paying out any compensation to the shareholders while at least keep the City happy, as one email from a Treasury civil servant said:
"If lenders are seen to have been bailed out by Government in dealing with Railtrack's administration, this will make it harder to refuse to help out the shareholders: fat cat City bankers get 100p in the pound and grannies (who probably invested at privatisation) lose their blouses."
A second handwritten document asked: “What can we do with grannies - compensation? eg travel pass?"IFAonline
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