22 May 2000

Edinburgh-based Standard Life, Europe’s largest mutual insurer, has launched an advertising campaign in a bid to counter a move by so-called carpetbaggers for a stock market flotation.

The demutualisation lobby recently won an interim vote in favour of flotation by promising the insurer’s 2.3m policyholders windfall payments of thousands of pounds if the move succeeds.

Standard Life has responded with a phased campaign of opposition ahead of the vote on 27 June. The £1.3m press and direct mail drive warns that windfall payments could be a lot lower than expected, and stresses the benefits of the insurer's current structure.

Standard Life maintains that there is "no business case" for change to a plc and that such a move would weaken its position in the marketplace. It also argues that its continuing high performance will mean "high returns" for policyholders whereas plc status would "dilute the rewards" available to its members.

Said group managing director, Scott Bell: "A great deal of careful consideration has gone into the implementation of an advertising campaign. We reached the conclusion that the campaign is essential if we are to communicate effectively with our 2.3m customers. It is the obligation of the board to make members aware of all the facts in the lead up to the vote on 27 June."

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)