Piecing together the jigsaw of son’s Friends Provident shares

Q&A: Policyholders received shares in insurer when it demutualised in 2001

Friends Provident  shares were worth 229 pence sterling when the insurer floated in 2001.

Friends Provident shares were worth 229 pence sterling when the insurer floated in 2001.

 

My son passed away last April. He had share in Friends Provident – all five of them! I do not have a certificate. I eventually found out that these shares were offloaded by Aviva but nobody seems to know to whom. I am told they are worth £25 but if Aviva did have these shares, what would they be valued at? I feel there is a piece of the jigsaw missing and am intrigued.

Ms W.C., email

It sounds like your son had a policy back in the day with the Friends Provident which was a mutually owned insurer. When it decided to demutualise and become a listed company on the stock exchange – as was all the rage at the time in 2001 – it gave its members (people like your son who had policies with it) shares in the new listed company.

Apparently those shares were worth 229 pence sterling when they floated. Eight years later they were bought by a listed investment company called Resolution in an all-share deal. Friends Provident shareholders got 0.9 of a Resolution share for every Friends Provident share they owned so your son would now have owned 4.5 Resolution shares.

Resolution did offer to buy small Friends Provident holdings at 79.4p sterling per share but it appears your son did not avail of this. I’m not sure what happened his half share as you cannot own half a share but it is possible he would have been paid in cash for that.

In 2014, Resolution was renamed Friends Life and, later that year, was bought by Aviva. It paid 0.74 of a share for each Friends Life share, so your son would now have 2.96 Aviva shares. Again, as is standard, fractions of shares from different investors were put together and sold by Aviva, with the money allocated to the investors. Your son should have received this money and should now have had two Aviva shares.

So your son’s five Friends Provident shares worth £11.45 in total when they were listed are now two Aviva shares worth, at current rates, £10, though he would also have received some money from the sale of his fractional entitlements in Resolution and Aviva.

Apart from the value of the shares, your son’s estate might also be due payment of dividends from his shares – as Friends Provident, Resolution/Friends Life and Aviva – so that’s something else you might need to check. The best place to start might be Computershare which is in charge of managing the list of who owns what in Aviva.

They were also registrar for Resolution/Friends Life while another company, Equiniti, was registrar to Friends Provident, should you need to track back on those companies.

The bad news, of course, is that, assuming you can track down your son’s current holding, you won’t be able to sell it without a share certificate. And replacing a lost certificate is likely to cost more than he value of his small holding.

It is always possible, given that no certificate is to hand, that your son did sell those shares at some point on their adventurous path over the past 17 years, so that’s another thing to consider.

I wrote about this in more detail a couple of years ago and, if you want a more comprehensive version of events, you can find it by clicking on this link – https://iti.ms/2Gc7BW9

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice

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