A controversial takeover of a private equity company by historic insurer LV has caused a storm among loyal customers.

Mail readers pledge to vote no on the deal.

Many members have been with the mutual for years and trusted the firm to take care of their money.

Unimpressed: Retired lecturer Clarissa Johnson (pictured) says she was ‘horrified’ when she first heard that LV could fall into the hands of Bain Capital

Unimpressed: Retired lecturer Clarissa Johnson (pictured) says she was ‘horrified’ when she first heard that LV could fall into the hands of Bain Capital

They feel bitterly disappointed by the prospect of losing their investment and pension funds.

Liverpool Victoria used to be the name of this investment and insurance firm. It was created in 1843 by Liverpudlians who wanted help burying their dead. 

It has been managed by the members of its mutual since then. 

But the firm is now considering accepting a £530 million bid from U.S. firm Bain Capital, which would see it stripped of its mutual status.

Private equity firms have a reputation for increasing prices and cutting jobs. They also prioritize the salaries of shareholders and top bosses.

Today, The Mail is calling for members to join our campaign to save LV. 

The vote is open to approximately 1.2 million members of LV who are covered by life insurance, pensions policies or annuities.

Many have pledged their opposition to it.

Retired lecturer Clarissa Johnson says she was ‘horrified’ when she first heard that LV could fall into the hands of Bain Capital.

The 74-year-old grandmother took out an enhanced annuity with the mutual over a decade ago, which pays out just under £500 a month.

However, she now says she has lost trust in LV’s board and plans to vote against the deal next month.

Bain Capital has pledged to pay each member up to £100 if the takeover goes ahead.

Retired couple Joseph and Jennifer Schneider, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, are horrified that LV chairman Alan Cook is backing a move that would demutualise the business

Retired couple Joseph and Jennifer Schneider, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, are horrified that LV chairman Alan Cook is backing a move that would demutualise the business

And around 297,000 customers who have with-profits policies — where payouts depend on how much profit companies make — will receive an extra 0.1 pc of the value of their policy for every year that they have held it. This is around £52 for most members.

LV bosses claim Bain’s bid is the only option that offers an ‘excellent financial outcome’ for members’ along with ‘unrivalled support’ for the brand, staff and UK-based offices.

But, given that Scottish Widows members received an average windfall of £6,000 when it was demutualised and bought by Lloyds in 2000, many feel the cash payment they have been offered is derisory.

Clarissa, who lives in Dorset, says: ‘The sum of money they offered us not only sounds like a bribe, it’s a paltry amount.

‘How does it amount to an “excellent financial outcome” for me, like LV says?’

If LV becomes a non-mutual, members won’t be able to influence any company decisions. Bain Capital has pledged to keep ‘mutual bonuses’ received by with-profit customers at a similar rate.

Experts fear that the company could increase exit fees or premiums to new customers.

Experts predict that the takeover of the company will be a disaster. 

Tony Hazell, Money Mail letters editor

What makes a group of American investors so keen to invest in a small insurance company that is owned by its members. Because they are able to make quick money.

Private equity can be seen as the antithesis to mutuality. Private equity is all about maximising profit for the few and fair share for everyone.

Since more than 200 years, family finances have been based on mutuality. Short-term greed then decimated the sector. This led to the end in tears, as almost every mutual had to be forcibly taken control of so that savers wouldn’t lose everything.

Directors are encouraging LV investors to part with their mutuality in exchange for some private equity cash.

Martin Shaw Association of Financial Mutuals, chief executive

It’s sad to see a once great mutual in such a weak position that it has to sell its mutual soul to the wolves of Wall Street. 

A mutual offers flexibility in managing the business, without putting too much emphasis on profit and serving the customers’ interests.

The money from Bain will yield a paltry £100 per member — next to nothing compared to everything members will lose.

Sylvia Morris Money Mail’s savings guru

Mutuals are a good choice for savers who like the idea that they can own the organization and take care of their money. 

They get all profits, not those of outsiders. 

Insurers owned by third parties typically set aside 10 percent of the profits on an investment fund called “with-profits”. 

With less of the profits, final payouts from LV savings policy could drop.

Ros Altmann, Ex-Pensions Minister

It’s difficult to imagine how this deal will benefit customers. 

The financial ‘reward’ of a paltry £100 is unlikely to compensate for the increased future risks they face. 

They have currently been placed in an investment company which does not seek to make a profit. However, this owner will replace it with one that is focused on good returns.

James Daley Fairer Finance

Almost all financial services scandals of the past few decades have — in my humble opinion — been caused by firms prioritising shareholder returns over good customer outcomes. 

I’ve always been a fan of mutuals because that tension between customer and shareholder does not exist — they are one and the same.

My difficulty is in identifying a single financial services company that has seen a significant improvement in customer satisfaction since becoming private equity-owned. I hope the members of this group will not vote in favor and push management to reconsider.

Helen Morrissey, Hargreaves Lansdown, senior pensions analyst

The mutuals make up some of the UK’s most recognizable brands. They are rooted in supporting the less fortunate members of society. There are no shareholders and customers own them so they can be focused on the good.

The tone has been set with reports that policyholders have been offered just £100 each to approve the takeover, a relatively small amount for signing over membership rights.

Malcolm Murray, now 77 years old, is a customer of LV for over 50 years. He’s just like his grandparents, and so have his parents. 

In 2000, the husband of Sheila (73), set up a mutual bond to invest in her future. This was so that she could be financially protected in case he dies unexpectedly.

The with-profits policy has delivered returns of around 5 pc each year — and is now worth a five‑figure sum.

However, the former chartered engineer said he would consider moving his bond elsewhere if Bain Capital is unsuccessful and vowed to vote no on the deal.

Malcolm, who lives in Lincolnshire, says: ‘The cash which Bain is offering to members is derisory. LV must be maintained as a mutual. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Others are worried about perceived intransparency around the deal.

They are also worried that bosses want to change LV’s constitution to push the deal through.

The deal must be supported by at least 75 percent of the voting members.

But LV is asking members to vote to ditch the 50 per centc requirement, which means it could go ahead with just a fraction of its members’ support.

And even if the bosses lose this vote, they could still go ahead with the sale but members will be paid just £60 rather than £100.

Derek Eade (76), who owns a five-figure amount in a bond with profit growth, believes that all of this uncertainty is unacceptable.

John James is concerned other members will be tempted by a short-term reward of £100

John James is concerned other members will be tempted by a short-term reward of £100

The retired accountant, who lives with wife Pam, 74, in Epsom, Surrey, says: ‘Policyholders need to know what they are voting for, especially the amount they will receive.’ 

Joseph Schneider and Jennifer Schneider from Bushey in Hertfordshire are shocked that Alan Cook, LV chairman, is supporting a move to demutualize the company.

A retired couple joined LV’s pension plan over a decade ago, believing that the firm was concerned about their members.

After discovering that Cook was managing director at the Post Office in 2006-2010, when subpostmasters had been falsely accused for theft, they lost confidence in him.

Joseph, 78, who has already voted against the deal, says: ‘I just do not trust Bain Capital — goodness knows what will happen to our pensions. I’m ashamed and disgusted with the deal and Mr Cook should be ashamed of himself.’

John James, 72, is concerned that other members will be tempted by a short-term reward of £100 in cash. Retired construction manager, John James, 72, took out an annuity with LV that pays a regular income for retirement.

John, who lives in Norfolk, says: ‘It is a terrifying thought that LV, a mutual, will be taken over by such a company. The £100 offer is a cheap joke, but other members could be easily influenced without looking at the long-term consequences.’

He calls on the Financial Conduct Authority (City watchdog) to block the transaction.

An LV spokesman says it needs ‘significant investment’ to compete in a ‘highly competitive’ market, adding: ‘Whilst none of the bids would have allowed LV to remain as a stand-alone mutual, this deal provides the highest distribution to with-profits policyholders compared to continuing with “business as usual” or closing to new business.’

Matt Popoli, a managing director of Bain Capital, says its proposed investment ‘maintains an independent LV’, adding: ‘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.’


Get your opinion heard at LV 

Bain Capital may sell the mutual to around 1.2million LV members who are covered by life insurance, pension plans and annuities.

Because their policies were sold to Allianz, they will not be eligible for a vote for those with any other type of insurance, like home and car cover. You should be receiving a ballot pack by tomorrow if you’re eligible. Each member will need two security codes to vote online.

Two votes are available. There are two votes. The first is whether the members wish for the sale to go ahead. The second is whether members want the sale to proceed. LV must have at least 75% of votes. If the motion is defeated, LV may consider accepting other offers. 

The second vote is on whether to scrap the mutual’s current constitution requirement that demands at least 50 per cent of all eligible members partake in the first vote. 

If LV loses this vote but wins the first, it will push ahead with the deal and members will be paid just £60 rather than £100.

Only members who hold a LV policy less than 12 month will be eligible to vote in the second round. 

Two virtual meetings will be held online on December 10, and you can cast your vote at either of them (lv.com/members/ meeting).

You can vote online if you are unable to attend the meeting.

Members have the option to also vote via post by using their form from their packs.

You can call LV 0800 666 5373 if you don’t have a voter pack and you believe that you might be eligible.

The results will be published shortly after both meetings on LV’s website.


We are encouraging LV members, customers, or others, who would like to see it retain its mutual status, rather than be bought out by private equity,  to write to it.

The wording of the Daily Mail’s City pages letter could be used (pictured below).

You can find the text below and copy it into a new letter. 

You can send it to Alan Cook (Chairman of LV=), Liverpool Victoria County Gates Bournemouth BH1 2NF 

Dear Alan Cook,

I urge you, the undersigned to reconsider your decision of selling LV= to Bain Capital. Instead, keep it in its mutual status. 

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