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Nine-month deadline to resolve Equitable dispute

Equitable Life has only nine months left to settle the dispute between policyholders to trigger the second tranche of payment from Halifax.

This means it faces a tight schedule to draw up the det-ailed scheme technicalities, consult on the draft, get court guidance, vote on the eventual proposals and get the final go ahead from the High Court by March 1, 2002 to get the next £250m of the £1bn Halifax deal.

According to a Mori poll, only 57 per cent of guaranteed annuity rate policyholders currently support receiving an uplift on their policy in return for waiving their guarantee. Seventy-three per cent of non-Gars support this.

But 66 per cent of non-Gars say they are not prepared to accept anything which gives Gar holders more than they already received at a cost on their policy.

Equitable has confirmed it could re-open to new business but it says its priority is to forge a compromise, without which the life office will not have the investment freedom to diversify its portfolio.

An Equitable spokesman says: “Our main priority is stabilising the society by means of a compromise which will then allow us to go back to having investment freedom.”

l Equitable, p9

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