Friends Provident is planning a £4.2bn flotation on the stockmarket in July, giving qualifying members share windfalls potentially worth £1,000.
The float is expected to raise around £1.4bn of capital, giving the life office a market value of £3.7bn to £4.2bn.
All 1.7 million members will qualify for a single fixed allocation of 200 shares irrespective of how many policies they hold. More than a million members who hold with-profits policies will get an additional allocation of shares which depends on size of policy and how long it has been held.
UK members can sell all their allocated shares immediately on listing but cannot sell only a proportion. Friends is setting up a special share-dealing service for members.
Members have to return voting forms by June 4 or vote in person at the life office's EGM on June 6. The proposal requires approval by at least 75 per cent of voting members plus approval from the courts.
Friends is mailing members with details, outlining the benefits, including how additional capital will allow it to grow in the pension market as well as make acquisitions.
Chairman David Newbigging says: “The distribution of shares to qualifying members will release value to them without any adverse impact on their policies. Listing will provide Friends Provident with increased financial flexibility.”