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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Standard Life plans listing vote
Standard Life sign
Standard Life members will vote on a possible listing next year
Standard Life - Europe's biggest mutual life insurer - will seek approval for its stock market flotation next year.

The board has backed the move and will ask members to vote on the plans at a special general meeting in May or June.

A 75% vote in favour of the move would be needed for the market listing to go ahead, the Edinburgh-based group added.

If it gets the go-ahead, the initial public offering (IPO) would be one of the biggest in recent years - valuing the group at more than 4bn ($7.1bn).

"You can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that this will be a FTSE 100 stock, and therefore institutions will need to buy this stock," Nick Cazalet, UK insurance analyst, said.

'Way forward'

Standard Life chairman, Sir Brian Stewart said the group would now write to its 2.4 million eligible members about the demutualisation plan ahead of next year's meeting.

Standard is trying to reinvent itself in a market place that continues to be difficult and unstable
Nick Cazalet, UK insurance analyst

"The Board continues to believe that demutualisation and flotation is the best way forward and in the best interests of members, customers and the company," he added in a statement.

Standard Life added that the flotation would take place as soon as possible after the special general meeting, with analysts widely predicting the company will list its shares on the London Stock Exchange in July.

Investment banks Lazard, Merrill Lynch and UBS will advise the group on the share offering.

Members will be offered shares, or in some cases cash and policy enhancements in return for their membership.

However, anyone who buys a policy on or after 18 October will not be eligible for membership rights.

Those who are current members can expect windfalls of between 500 and 1,000 each, reports suggest.

Tough climate

"Standard is trying to reinvent itself in a market place that continues to be difficult and unstable and so it will be interesting to see what the City makes of it," Mr Cazalet told Reuters.

The insurance industry has faced some tough trials of late - as an investment downturn ate into their capital base, and the demise of Equitable Life rocked consumer confidence in the industry.

The Equitable scandal also left financial services groups facing tighter regulations to protect policyholders - forcing Standard Life to keep more funds in reserve.

Standard itself has had to shake-up its business, axing 3,000 jobs since 2004 to cut costs.




SEE ALSO:
Standard Life board wins key vote
26 Apr 05 |  Business
Standard Life cuts policy bonuses
02 Feb 05 |  Business
Q&A: Standard Life demutualisation
31 Mar 04 |  Business


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