When will these Windsor woes cease?

Windsor Life, which took over the back book of business from Tomorrow at the end of last year, has been inundated with complaints from advisers and consumers due to poor service.

Louise Somerville Williams wrote to Windsor Life on February 8 requesting information about her mother’s annuity that was needed to put her estate in order after she passed away in January.

She says: “I got back a very casual letter which did not answer any of my questions. It simply said: ‘We will be in touch with you if we need to’.”

Somerville Williams wrote another letter which went unanswered. Her brother followed it up with a phone call which was put through to a callback service, which never responded. She eventually received the information over the phone earlier this month.

A Windsor Life spokesman says: “The backlog is being addressed actively and we are pleased to report that significant progress has been made in reducing it.

“We have at all times treated this problem extremely seriously and apologise to customers who have been affected by these problems.”

Onto Sipps and Axa is to offer its Sipp customers the chance to buy hotel rooms in the hotel room investment company GuestInvest.

Under the GuestInvest concept, investors purchase their own hotel room on a 999-year lease and receive 50 per cent of the room’s income, which is let out by the hotel on their behalf throughout the year.

They benefit from any capital appreciation on re-sale and the investment offers a guaranteed minimum 6 per cent return for the first year of the hotel’s operation.

Purchasing a room through a Sipp offers investors tax relief at their marginal rate and under normal Sipp borrowing rules, they can borrow up to 50 per cent of the value of their Sipp fund to buy the hotel room.

Axa will also allow rooms to be purchased on a pooled basis of up to five investors.

On the life side, JC Flowers withdrew its £3.5bn acquisition offer for Friends Provident after the life office refused to engage in discussions with the private equity firm.

JC Flowers imposed a deadline on Friends Provident at the beginning of last week saying that it would withdraw its 150p per share bid offer if the Board of Friends did not engage in discussions.

Friends rejected the original bid earlier this month and said it did not intend to enter into discussions with JC Flowers despite calls from the private equity firm to do so.

The life insurer said the offer undervalued the business and says it remains focused on the implementation of its strategic review announced at the start of this year.

A statement from Friends said: “Good progress is being made and the Board remains confident that its strategy will deliver its objectives of improving cashflow and returns for shareholders.”

JC Flowers can not make another offer for Friends in the next six months unless a third party announces an offer or unless Friends announces a whitewash proposal or a reverse takeover.