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Will white knight rescue Equitable and the industry?

The horror story may be over for Equitable Life as Halifax emerges as the long sought after white knight.

There are problems with the proposed £1bn deal, notably that one-quarter of the money is contingent on the agreement of policyholders while, more worryingly,a further quarter depends on the future performance of the salesforce.

But a sale must be good news for the industry as Equitable stops lurching from crisis to crisis.

Some IFAs will not now gain business from Equitable clients although there are still strong grounds for a financial healthcheck. But advisers&#39 greatest concern must be where Equitable or the several bits of it, will sit in the Halifax stable with particular regard to Clerical Medical. They must hope that Clerical remains a pure IFA operation.

This seems to be what Halifax plans for the moment at least, under the name Halifax Equitable. It will also remain separate from Halifax Life.

Halifax now has more strings to its distribution bow than most operations. It has Clerical for IFAs on life, pensions and investment, Intelligent Finance for internet banking although this does include advisers, St James&#39s Place Capital for the well off who are determined to go direct and its branch network.

IFAs will still be concerned Halifax did not believe its IFA operation could last the course while a direct operation as damaged as Equitable can. But overall, IFAs and the industry will be glad if the matter is laid to rest. Halifax, for its part, will become even more of a force.

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