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Equitable Life lays groundwork for potential sale

Equitable Life 440Shuttered insurer Equitable Life is eyeing a sale of its remaining business, according to reports.

The mutual, which has been in run-off since closing to new business in 2000, is still technically owned by its more than 300,000 remaining policyholders, most of whom hold with-profits funds.

The firm came close to closing altogether 18 years ago after making poor provision for liabilities. It could be sold as early as this spring, according to chief executive Chris Wiscarson.

He tells the Financial Times that a potential sale comes as the firm reviews ways to improve capital payments to departing customers.

He says: “The big strategic issue facing Equitable is how to distribute capital in a low interest rate environment…If someone could do it better than we could, we’d be very interested.

“We are determined to distribute greater amounts of capital to policyholders, and we are hopeful of being able to give them some good news in the spring.”

Equitable Life chief: What I’ve learned 10 years after the crisis

There are signs of continuing consolidation in the closed-book market, with the likes of Phoenix and Swiss Re acquiring millions of backdated life policies in recent months.

Goldman Sachs are understood to be advising Equitable Life on a potential sale, but declined to comment.

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  1. One thing is for sure, the only real winners in all of this as usual will be the bosses, lawyers, accountants and various other consultants and hangers on.

    Policyholders will be last in the queue as ever.

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