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Standard sees off the carpetbaggers

Standard Life has won the backing of policyholders at the climax of its four-month battleto remain mutual.

Policyholders rejected carpetbagger Fred Woollard&#39s motion to convert by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent, with581,173 voting against and 508,111 in favour. A total of 1.1 million policyholders cast votes, with around a fifth of total membership backing conversion.

The board offered special thanks at the special general meeting in Edinburgh to IFAs for their support during the campaign.

IFAs across the UK are relieved amid fears a conversion could have paved the way for further consolidation in the life and pension market. But some advisers believe Standard has only delayed the inevitable.

Monaco-based fund manager Woollard fell well short of the75 per cent target required to force the giant Scottish mutual to convert.

But Standard&#39s board has not emerged unscathed.

Members who addressed the SGM criticised its failure to communicate the benefits of mutuality fully, promptinggroup managing director Scott Bell to say: “There will be no champagne tonight.”

The board also faced accusations of misleading some members about share dividends if Standard became a plc.

Bell said: “IFAs have been very important in their support. They recognise the importance of a mutual in the market. There is much to learn from the debate. We must find ways of communicating effectively.”

Masson & Glennie insurance manager Michael Stephen says: “I am not really surprised, given the time and money Standard has invested in its campaign but I believe all they are doing is delaying the inevitable.”

Primavera Financial Partners partner Patrick McClelland says: “The industry needs a large mutual to give balance and competition. The campaign, however, was a shot across the bows for Standard Life and should help focus their attention on acting like a true mutual.”

l Bruised but wiser, p3


Nuki&#39s Eye

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