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Standard under fire at AGM

Standard Life chairman Sir Brian Stewart came under fire from shareholders over the performance of endowment policies at its first annual meeting since demutualisation.

Stewart, who retired from his position as chairman following the meeting, described Standard’s results since flotation in July 2006 as “remarkable”, prompting questions from shareholders about why it ditched its much vaunted endowment guarantee.

Stewart said: “We may have taken some unpalatable choices and made some tough decisions but we have continued to invest to ensure the long-term stability of this company.”

Group chief executive Sandy Crombie said: “We cannot conjure up money from the fund if it is not there. We have a surplus of 1.3bn in the fund but I do not believe this would cover the deficit.”

Shareholders pushed for a figure of the exact shortfall facing endowment policyholders but Standard was unable to provide this information.

Amicus protestors gathered outside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre to protest over proposals to cut staff pensions. The dispute has been running since Standard announced it would be downgrading pension entitlements for its 7,000 staff and sever the link between future service and retirement salary.

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