Equitable Life's new premium income up 1.5% as it unveils bonus rates

 

Equitable Life's new premium income rose by 1.5 per cent in the Republic last year, to more than £100 million (#127 million), accounting for 27 per cent of the mutual's international new premium income.

The company also announced the bonus rates for its with-profits products for 1999 yesterday. The overall return for with-profits pension funds was 13.5 per cent while the return on with-profits bond investments was 11 per cent.

Equitable also set the interim rates for 2000 which will apply to those departing the funds before the end of the year.

The with-profits pension fund interim rate for 2000 is 13 per cent while the rate for bond investments is 10.5 per cent.

Equitable has introduced its European fund in the Republic. The fund has been available to British investors since 1987 but will now be available to Irish clients, denominated either in pounds or in euros.

Meanwhile, the date for Equitable's appeal to the House of Lords of a British Court of Appeal ruling against its controversial treatment of policy-holders with annuity guarantees had been set for June 12th, the company said.

The Court of Appeal ruled, by a two-one majority, that Equitable Life directors acted unlawfully in reducing final bonuses paid to 90,000 holders of policies with guaranteed annuity rates.

The unexpected ruling, which overturned a High Court ruling last September, re-ignited speculation that the 238-year-old company could be forced into a merger or take-over to raise funds, losing its mutual status.

But Mr Noel Creedon, manager of the company's Irish operations, said Equitable was "quite confident we can ride out the current turbulence" and firmly believed it was in its members' best interests to remain a mutual firm.