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Stronger Equitable hands out bonus

Equitable Life with-profits policholders are to get interim bonuses and the company says it is in better condition than at any other time in recent years.

Equitable is carrying out a strategic review into its long-term future, which is believed to include the aim of going back into equities and the option of being put up for sale.

In the society&#39s preliminary results for 2003, the company reveals an interim non-guaranteed bonus of 2 per cent for with-profits pension policies and 1.5 per cent for life policies, effective from January 1.

It says its solvency levels, measured by its fund for future appropriations, stand at £542m and it will be holding back 1 per cent of investment return to meet the FSA&#39s new realistic reporting regime capital requirements.

Equitable believes the Penrose report raises “no adverse financial consequences” for it but it has reiterated calls for the Parliamentary Ombudsman to investigate regulatory maladministration, with a view to recommending compensation if appropriate.

Chairman Vanni Treves says: “Equitable Life is solvent, stabilising and in better condition than at any time in recent years. Greater stability is being achieved and we will now focus on developing proposals to improve the longer-term prospects for remaining policyholders. We will share these proposals when they have taken significant shape.”

Chief executive Charles Thomson says: “We believe that the Parliamentary Ombudsman is now duty-bound to investigate the issue of regulatory maladministration and, if appropriate, recommend compensation. We are also working with our legal advisers to see if we have a cost-effective and sustainable case against any regulatory regime, through the UK or European courts.”

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