Europe’s largest mutual life insurer, Edinburgh-based Standard Life, has set a date of June 27 for a special general meeting to vote on whether or not members want to demutalize the 175- year-old insurer.
A group, led by Fred Woollard who is based in Monaco and supported by institutions such as Barclays Global Investors Endowment Funds, forced directors to schedule the meeting by presenting a request that the matter of converting to a public company should be acted upon.
Standard’s management strongly opposes the move. Scott Bell, the company’s managing director, was quoted as saying, “Because we are a mutual we can focus solely on the interests of our members. There is no business case to demutualise.” But the lure of an average windfall payment of £6000 ($9,500) apparently has many members, over half by some estimates, in favor of demutualization.
If the plan is adopted Standard, with over £79 billion ($125 billion) under management, would rival the U.K.’s other big firms, Prudential and CGNU, and would take its place in Europe alongside such companies as France’s AXA, Germany’s Allianz, ING and AEGON in Holland, and Switzerland’s Zurich Financial.
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