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Standard Life lashes out at Cazalet claims

Standard Life has launched a scathing attack on influential analyst Ned Cazalet, saying that he has refused to accept invitations to go through its books and that his analysis is wrong.

Cazalet angrily rejects the claims, saying he has had repeated meetings with senior Standard figures this year, including group finance director John Hylands and group actuary Bob King and that the company, by its own admission, lost £9bn in reserves last year.

Standard claims other analysts are more credible than Cazalet and that he is trying to promote his business by attacking the country&#39s biggest mutual.

The row follows well-publicised comments by Cazalet questioning Standard Life&#39s strategy, its policy on bonuses and market value adjusters and claims that its reserves have fallen to below £2bn.

Standard Life has reasserted its financial strength, saying it can withstand the FTSE falling to 3,000 before having to switch assets. But it refuses to disclose the current valuation of its reserves or its with-profits policyholders bonus policy, repeating that bonuses and MVA policy are under daily review.

Director of corporate affairs Gordon Arthur says: “We are one of the five strongest life companies in the world and have an AAA rating from Standard & Poor&#39s and Moody&#39s. They do not just sit behind a desk looking at published FSA returns but look at our books, our management process and our long-term strategy.

“Cazalet has refused to come and meet Standard Life because he is too busy. We struggled to get a date out of him and then he cancelled. The FTSE can go down to 3,000 before we have to switch assets.”

Cazalet says he will take the fight to Standard Life. He says: “It is completely untrue that I have refused to meet Standard Life. I have had a face-to-face meeting recently with senior figures in Standard Life.”

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