Equitable Life, the UK's oldest mutual life assurer which collapsed in 2000, says the next 12 months is the right time to address its future including a possible buy-out.
The announcement came as part of the society’s annual results, which it believes show the company is in good shape.
Vanni Treves, Equitable Life’s chairman, says: “The major achievements of the last 12 months have brought the Society to an important crossroads. We can comfortably run the business off ourselves, but we are also in good shape for others to consider.
"If one or more third parties can provide a better outlook for our policyholders than we can ourselves then we will recommend the best approach to our members. Whatever the outcome, the next 12 months is the right time to address this question.”
Over the year ended December 31 2007, bonuses were maintained at 5% pa non-guaranteed increase for UK with-profits pension policies.
There were also a number of policy transfers to other providers including: most of the Society’s fixed pensions (£4.6bn) to Canada Life Limited completed in February 2007; University Life Assurance Society transferred to Reliance Mutual at the end of May 2007 and with-profits annuities (pensions in payment) transferred to Prudential in December 2007 (£1.7bn). Outstanding subordinated bonds were redeemed in August 2007.
Charles Thomson, the Society’s chief executive, adds: “The Society has continued its steady progress and we now operate ‘business as usual’ like any other closed fund. Of course, we have also implemented very significant deals with Canada Life and Prudential as well as addressing smaller issues in University Life and the Subordinated Bonds.
“The Society is at last ready to address the fundamental question of its longer term future – to continue alone, or to find a buyer. As always, the interests of policyholders will be paramount and we hope to identify the best approach this year.”IFAonline
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