US private equity group attempts to counter concerns over $530m bid for UK mutual insurer
First published on Mon 15 Nov 2021 07.27 EST
The US private equity group Bain Capital has insisted that LV= customers will “receive significant financial benefits” as it tried to counter growing concerns over its proposed £530m takeover of the mutual insurer.
In a statement circulated on Monday morning, Bain insisted that it was “committed to the long-term growth and success” of LV=, originally known as Liverpool Victoria, by growing its customer base, reclaiming its position as one of the top three life insurers, and increasing the reach of its equity release mortgage product.
“LV= members will receive significant financial benefits from our investment, while simultaneously being safeguarded from substantial future liabilities,” the American firm, which was co-founded by the Republican senator Mitt Romney, said.
It highlighted a £160m investment to modernise the business, develop new products and improve customer service, as well as £264m to fund future pensions payouts for customers and service debt, which would otherwise be paid through profits.
Bain also pointed to the £111m earmarked for LV=’s near 1.2 million members, as well as the £101m that will be shared with its 297,000 “with-profits” policyholders – who legally own LV=. However, customers have balked at the fact that it will only result in payments worth £100 each for regular policyholders.
Gareth Thomas, Labour’s shadow minister for international trade and the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for mutuals, suggested Bain’s statement was “just spin”. He said: “There’s nothing new here; some money from the Bain deal but also money already in LV’s coffers from the sale of its insurance arm.”
Bain’s charm offensive comes as LV= members and politicians raise concerns over the deal, which will mean abandoning the mutual status of the insurer and shifting ownership from its members to the private equity house. Campaigners have said the takeover could result in worse payouts for customers and poorer customer service.
MPs also worry that private equity firms’ focus on profits could result in stripping the company of its assets and loading it with debt before selling it to another bidder in a few years’ time. Bain has said it will not saddle LV with debt.
Thomas also highlighted concerns that members have little information about a rival bid by the mutual Royal London, which could have maintained the company’s mutual status – as well as what LV=’s chief executive, Mark Hartigan, and the chair, Alan Cook, may gain from choosing Bain over rival suitors. LV= has denied that either of the men stand to personally benefit.
“We are still not being told how much other bidders including Royal London would have invested in Liverpool Victoria’s members and they have a right to know that before they vote to close down their business and sell up so Bain, Cook and Hartigan can become even wealthier,” Thomas said.
Matt Popoli, a managing director of Bain Capital, said: “Our proposed investment maintains an independent LV=, and is predicated on LV=’s inherent significance, its heritage and brand. To be sustainable and achieve long-term success, LV= needs capital to address its heavy debt pile, fund its pension liabilities and invest for growth.
“With-profits members should not bear the burden of this investment. As a result of the transaction, LV= will be strengthened with access to more capital and structured with less debt.”
Members will be asked to vote on Bain’s proposed takeover on 10 December.
Source: Read Full Article