Liverpool Victoria has been helping its members for 178 years.

Now those members hold the fate of the cherished mutual insurer in their hands – only they can stop LV being bought up by private equity giant Bain Capital, with potentially disastrous results.

However the deal struck by bosses awards a paltry £100 to the 1.2million policyholders who, in return, must give up their ownership rights.

Last week, members were shocked to learn how much they would receive.

Even for those 340,000 members with more generous ‘with-profits’ policies – who share in LV’s fortunes – Bain is offering only a small uplift to their eventual pay-out.

After a hot summer of pandemic theft, businesses from Morrisons up to Ultra Electronics were in the crosshairs for private equity.

Bosses Mark Hartigan and Alan Cook (pictured above) plan to stay on if the deal goes through ¿ other offers would have seen them lose their jobs

Bosses Mark Hartigan and Alan Cook (pictured above) plan to stay on if the deal goes through – other offers would have seen them lose their jobs

Buyout groups spent £33billion on snapping up British companies in the first half of 2021 alone – more than double the next-best first six months on record, according to figures from data firm Refinitiv.

The growing presence of private equity firms on UK shores, as they hunt for companies at bargain-basement prices due to the country’s pandemic-related economic woes, has worried business leaders and MPs across the political spectrum.

To increase profits, private equity firms will often use brutal tactics such as asset stripping and job cutting to load firms with debt.

Lord Heseltine, a Tory grandee and former deputy prime minister under John Major, said: ‘There needs to be a way for the Government to overrule takeovers when it’s in the national interest – not just on the current narrowly defined grounds.’

In the past, companies were left struggling years after buyouts made their profit.

Debenhams, laden with debt from its private equity years, collapsed in 2019.

Southern Cross, a care home chain, was forced into administration by Blackstone’s profit from the sale of all its properties.

Urging LV members to vote against the Bain deal next month, Lord Heseltine said: ‘The only reason anybody is offering you £100 to vote to demutualise your business and sell to overseas companies is because it’s worth a great deal more than the £100.’

While bosses line up for bumper pay packets after the deal, policyholders who own company will get just £100 each and give up ownership (photo of company's Bournemouth office)

While bosses line up for bumper pay packets after the deal, policyholders who own company will get just £100 each and give up ownership (photo of company’s Bournemouth office)

LV members who have contacted the Daily Mail have branded the £100 payment ‘deplorable’, and said bosses were ‘selling off the silver’.

The deal will see LV lose its mutual status – meaning it will no longer be owned by its members but by a profit-hungry investor.

As opposition grows, LV’s bosses have been accused of trying to ‘rail-road’ the deal through.

The insurer’s rules say that at least half its 1.2million members must take part in a vote to demutualise the company – a turnout which LV’s chairman Alan Cook has conceded is near-impossible.

Instead, LV bosses have asked members to lower the threshold. Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said: ‘This appears to be a devious and underhanded way of getting what they want, and lining the pockets of a few including the directors at the expense of the many.’

A senior source in the life insurance industry described the tactics as ‘legal chicanery designed to ride a coach and horses through the mutual lock that previous members and management put in place to prevent this happening’.

In an impassioned plea, Lord Heseltine urged LV members to vote against the deal next month

Lord Heseltine pleaded with LV members not to support the agreement in a passionate plea

Investors received much higher returns in past demutualisations. When Scottish Widows lost its mutual status in 2000, the average windfall for members was £6,000.

And when Scottish Provident went through the process the same year, its members bagged £3,636.

Martin Shaw, of the Association of Financial Mutuals, said members were being asked to ‘sell their rights in the business for less than the cost of a good meal out’.

He added: ‘Historically, demutualisation means managers focus less on customer service and policyholder returns, so the value of any payment may soon be lost.’

Former pensions minister and Tory peer Baroness Altmann said LV was threatening to be the ‘latest in a long line of great British names that have fallen to private equity, and have all too often found that their traditions of great service have not been maintained as well as you might expect’.

Peter Hunt, managing partner of consulting group Mutuo, said Bain’s offer for LV had ‘stunk from start to finish’. According to the insurer, it was desperate for cash in order to invest.

It claimed Bain’s offer was the only option that made sense financially and supported the brand, its staff and its UK-based locations.

Post Office chaos taints Chairman

Daily Mail Reporter 

The LV boss who sold the 178-year old mutual to private-equity vultures was key in the Post Office IT scandal as well as the rollout and deathly smart motorways.

Alan Cook was the Chairman of the Board and played a crucial role in the sale to Bain Capital.

LV members said they were ‘dismayed and bewildered’ that he was allowed to head a major and much-loved organisation responsible for the policies of 1.2million members.

As chairman of Highways England from 2010 to 2013, Mr Cook oversaw a push to change the design of smart motorways to place refuge areas up to 1.5 miles apart – four times farther than before.

As chairman of Highways England from 2010 to 2013, Mr Cook oversaw push to change design of smart motorways to place refuge areas 1.5 miles apart ¿ four times farther than before

As chairman of Highways England from 2010 to 2013, Mr Cook oversaw push to change design of smart motorways to place refuge areas 1.5 miles apart – four times farther than before

A document produced by the government agency from June 2012 said: ‘By rationalising refuge areas savings can be made on a significant item of capital infrastructure.’

Yesterday, a former minister claimed this was against the wishes of the Department for Transport, which agreed an initial £2billion of funding on the basis there would be more regular refuges for broken-down vehicles.

Sir Mike Penning, a parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Transport between 2010 and 2012, said: ‘We trusted them. Highways England is the only one who could have allowed this to happen. He is the one who takes all of the blame. [Alan Cook].’

From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Cook served as the managing director for the Post Office. The Post Office prosecuted over 200 postmasters, postmistresses and other postal workers who were accused of theft and fraud.

Over a decade has passed since victims were able to make their identities public. Hundreds of people are still fighting for justice. Many have been killed waiting for justice.

The decision to sell LV to a private equity firm rather than Royal London, another mutual, is likely to ensure Mr Cook keeps his £205,000 job for another two years.

The Post Office scandal saw hundreds of postmasters being sacked or prosecuted for thefts and frauds later found to be the result of computer glitches (file image)

Post Office scandal resulted in hundreds of Postmasters being fired or tried for their thefts. Later, it was found that the frauds were caused by computer problems (file image). 

Chief executive Mark Hartigan, who was paid £1.2million last year, is also expected to bag a bumper pay package under the new owners.

Mr Hartigan, 58, is a former Army colonel who joined as LV’s chief executive last year, shortly before the sale process began.

Pensioner Clarissa Johnson, from Dorset, who has been with LV since 2011, said: ‘I’m dismayed and bewildered that LV, a very well established mutual, is being led by someone with such a chequered past.

‘I can’t actually understand how someone with his track record managed to become the chair of LV at all.

This board is not trustworthy. It’s a very sad situation. I’m very upset and will be voting against the deal.’

An LV spokesman said: ‘While it would not be appropriate for LV to comment on Post Office matters relating to Alan Cook’s tenure with them, I can assure you that he has deep sympathy for those postmasters wrongly prosecuted.

Furthermore he is supportive of the recently announced Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry as it seeks to provide critical answers to everyone affected.’

One month remaining for members to help save great institutions

Lucie White, Daily Mail 


Bain Capital is the American private equity company that will purchase the 178-year old life insurance. LV bosses signed the deal last year. They said they required investment in digital technology expansion and implementation. But it has taken several months for LV’s management and Bain to agree terms with City regulators, and figure out how much members will be paid. The 1.2million members – its customers – are being asked to vote on the deal.


LV Mutual is owned by customers who have life and pension insurance policies. The business’s success is guaranteed by the fact that it operates solely for policyholders and does not make any profit for investors. It used to be known as Liverpool Victoria. The foundation was started in 1843 in order to assist the poor in paying for burials for their loved ones. Its mutuality was an important principle – members could be sure their money was being put to good use. Bain and other private equity companies are known for raising prices and cutting jobs. MPs and members fear the quality of LV’s business will deteriorate and the cost of policies will rise.


Policyholders who are eligible to cast their ballot should receive an information pack by November 18 – they can vote online between now and December 8, or during two online conferences on December 10. LV members are only people who have life, pension or annuity insurance. Anybody with a different type LV-branded policy (e.g. home or car insurance) will be unable to vote because this part of the company has been sold.


Bain is planning to pay most members just £100 in return for giving up their ownership of LV – a sum described as ‘paltry’. Around 340,000 members who hold more ‘with-profits’ policies will get a slightly greater payout.


LV’s bosses said they weighed up 12 formal bids and the final two were understood to be Bain and Royal London, another British mutual. It has been rumoured that Royal London offered £10million more. The bid would have allowed LV to remain a member of a mutual and put members first. LV’s own with-profits committee, which represents members, is understood to have initially favoured Royal London. The rival mutual is understood to be waiting in case Bain’s deal collapses.


LV’s board, led by chairman Alan Cook and chief executive Mark Hartigan, plumped for the Bain deal, claiming it was the ‘only option that offered both an excellent financial outcome for members and gave unrivalled support for the LV brand, our people and UK based locations’. Bain’s offer is likely to see Mr Hartigan keep his role and it is understood he would be awarded a higher salary and an ownership stake potentially worth millions. Mr Cook will also retain his £205,000-a-year post. They would have both been lost under Royal London.


All LV-branded insurance such as car or home insurance will be protected as the arm was already sold to Allianz. But those with life insurance and other similar policies will be affected – they will no longer own the business. Bain has promised that the so-called mutual bonus which with-profits members are paid in years when the business does well will be maintained ‘at current levels’. This means that LV members may lose out if the business performs well. Bain is looking for profits and future customers could be most at-risk.