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Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Standard Life in final appeal
fred woollard
Fred Woollard: The carpetbaggers' main man
Insurance group Standard Life has made a final appeal for policyholders to vote against the demutualisation proposal being put forward by a group of rebel members.

Voting forms are being sent out to Standard Life's 2.3 million voting members this week on whether the company should demutalise and pay its policyholders windfall sums of up to 6,000.

The forms are being accompanied by a "brief document outlining the key facts as we see them," the company said.

A City briefing will also outline why the group believes policyholders should reject the demutualisation proposal.

A special general meeting will be held in Edinburgh at the end of June, but those intending to vote by post must return their ballot papers by midnight on 22 June.

The build-up to the ballot on 27 June has been characterised by a bitter battle between those who want the status quo and those who are lobbying for change.

It is not surprising that so many policyholders are rallying to our cause since many feel badly let down by the mutual insurer

Fred Woollard
Pro-demutualisation campaigners are growing increasingly confident of winning the fight following a newspaper survey which showed overwhelming support for the so-called carpetbaggers' case.

The study, carried out by the Financial Mail on Sunday, showed that 82% of its readers were in favour of the society converting to a stock market-listed company.

Of the 1,300 readers who had so far answered the paper's poll, 95% said they were policyholders with Standard Life.

Fred Woollard, the Monaco-based carpetbagger behind the conversion campaign, hailed the survey findings as evidence that the mutual had failed its members.

'Kept in dark'

"It is not surprising that so many policyholders are rallying to our cause since many feel badly let down by the mutual insurer," he said.

"There are approximately 530,000 endowment policyholders who are being kept in the dark until after the demutualisation vote of 27 June about whether or not their policies will be sufficient to pay off their mortgages."

But the findings of the Financial Mail on Sunday poll were in stark contrast to a survey published on Friday by Standard Life, which is campaigning to remain mutual.

That poll, carried out by Mori on behalf of Standard Life, found that support for conversion among policyholders had fallen from 32% two weeks ago to only 18% today.

It also showed 43% of members firmly against demutualisation, with 39% still undecided.

The MORI poll was conducted among 500 Standard Life members last week.

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See also:

21 May 00 | Scotland
Insurer in renewed plc attack
28 Apr 00 | Business
The standard life of Fred Woollard
25 Apr 00 | Scotland
Boost for carpetbaggers' hopes
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