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The long history of Equitable Life, RIP

1762 Equitable Life is foun ded as the world&#39s first mutual society.

1957 Equitable offers its first guaranteed ann uity pension.

Mid-1980s Equitable makes a virtue of the fact that its salesforce is not paid by commission, unlike IFAs, in its advertising.

Late 1980s and early 1990s The changing interest rate environment means thousands more policy holders choose to take the guaranteed option.

1988 Equitable Life stops offering guaranteed annuity pension contracts.

Early 1994 Equitable offers policyholders the option of los ing the guarantee on their contracts or seeing bonus payments reduced.

1998 The Government Actuary&#39s Department orders life insurers to acc ount for annuity gua rantees in their reserves.

October 1998 Equit able Life Policyholders Action Group laun ched by IFA Annuity Direct&#39s Stuart Bayliss to take legal action.

September 1999 The High Court approves Equitable Life&#39s policy.

January 2000 The Court of Appeal reverses the decision in favour of policyholders Subse qu ently, Prudential and Axa are believed to have made offers for the company.

July 20, 2000 Law Lords back the Appeal Court and increase the level of the guarantee, creating the now infamous “black hole”. The mutual immediately announces plans to sell.

From the initially interested group of possible buyers which included Norwich Union, Aegon, Prudential, GE Capital and European cons-ortium Eureko, Prudential was the last to remain in the bidding for Equitable Life but talks collapsed last week.

December 8, 2000 Equitable closes for new business although the FSA insists it is solvent. With-profits fund to be invested in fixed-interest securities.

Equitable man aging director Alan Nash resigns and finance director Chris Headdon replaces him with the title chief executive.

December 11, 2000 The FSA insists that, whatever happened, it is not its fault. IFAs begin to pick up the pieces.

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