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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Standard Life board wins key vote
Standard Life sign
Standard Life plans to float on the stock market in 2006
Campaigner Michael Hogan has failed in his bid to be voted onto the board of Standard Life, Europe's largest mutual life insurer.

Mr Hogan failed to get enough votes on Tuesday to secure a place on the board and the board's six recommended candidates were elected.

Mr Hogan backs the board's plans to float the insurer in 2006.

But he accuses it of keeping "members in the dark" about preparations and of overseeing poor investment performance.

A poor performance?

Mr Hogan wanted members to have a greater say in how the business prepared for flotation, often called demutualisation, so that they could get "the best possible deal".

Today represents another significant step towards our proposed de-mutualisation in 2006
Sir Brian Stewart, Standard Life chairman

Mr Hogan, who has more than thirty years business experience, has criticised Standard Life's investment performance, contrasting it unfavourably with arch rival Prudential.

In a surprise about-turn, fellow campaigner David Stonebanks called on members in a written statement to vote for the board's candidates.

Mr Stonebanks said that he was now happy with the experience of the board's candidates. He added that preparations for the stock market float were "far too valuable to be tossed aside at this time by amateurs".

Mr Stonebanks has long led calls for Standard Life to float and had been highly critical of the board in the past.

Standard Life policyholders may now regret the fact that the insurer had successfully beaten off two previous attempts to force a float

The board's six candidates were voted in by large majorities at the AGM, which took place in Edinburgh.

Sir Brian Stewart, Standard Life chairman, welcomed the board's victory. "Today represents another significant step towards our proposed de-mutualisation in 2006.

"Everything we are doing at the moment is designed to maximise the value of the company for our members."

Standard Life's estimated 2.6 million members will vote on the timing of the flotation - largely assumed to be next year - either later this year or early next year.

Earlier on Tuesday, Standard Life reported a 4% fall in first quarter sales.

Sandy Crosbie, Standard Life group chief executive, said that the fall in sales was part of a deliberate policy to " write less business in the UK in 2005 than we did in 2004 as we seek out more profitable segments of the market."

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