Private Investor: The future is grey - and bright - for the Saga empire
Saturday 18 September 2004
The Old People's Travel Bureau has come along way, hasn't it?
The Old People's Travel Bureau has come along way, hasn't it? You don't recognise the name? No, of course not, because it is much better known now as Saga. It was founded, I discover, in 1951 by Sidney De Haan, who first operated the business from a hotel bedroom. As we all can see, Saga has built itself a very lucrative and respected business since those small beginnings, and somehow not suffered too much form the music-hall jokes about it. I don't think being older is necessarily a bad thing, and one of the most cringeworthy things I can think of is to listen to some young oik dismiss someone with age and experience as "just an old man". And that isn't just because I'm going grey. We're none of us getting any younger, are we?
In any case, the De Haan family is interested in refloating Saga on the stock market and I am jolly excited at the prospect. A look at the company's website shows it has branched out into financial services (eg Saga Pet Insurance), broadcasting (Saga FM), car sales (Saga Cars Direct) and even advice about sex. For example, when researchers studied middle-aged men in Caerphilly, Wales, over a 10-year period, they found that the death rate for the least sexually active men was twice as high as that of the most active. The lowering of risk was particularly marked when it came to heart attacks, leading scientists to endorse the idea that sex can be excellent exercise. Not just in Caerphilly, I hope.
But I digress. The point is that the Saga brand is very well known and ripe for greater exploitation. The core business ought to benefit from a gradually ageing British population. What is less remarked upon is the fact that the generation presently enjoying consistent double-digit house-value increases, and thus an astonishing inflation in the value of their principal asset, are those who in a decade or so may well be turning to Saga for their cruise of a lifetime, insurance for the new pets they didn't have time for before they retired, and that nice new or classic car they always promised themselves. And they will be well placed to cash in on their family home to finance a happy and luxurious retirement.
After all, you can't take it with you, and if you don't blow it, the chances are that the local authority or the Exchequer will grab it to pay for nursing care or inheritance tax. With every Budget Gordon Brown closes another wealth-preserving loophole and that means an ever greater incentive just to go crazy on that Saga cruise. I know pensioner poverty and near-poverty is a real problem, but there are many people over the age of 60 who have never had it so good. I think we should all be able to share in their success.
So it is a little disturbing to read press reports suggesting that the public offer of shares may not actually happen, and that the whole exercise is a way of ramping the private equity funds into paying a better price for the business when it goes to them on a private basis. It is a little reminiscent of the postponed public flotation of William Hill in 1999, which eventually did go ahead and came very good for those, like me, who joined in when the shares were issued in 2002. I took my profits on William Hill after they had appreciated about 50 per cent, so it was rather a good gamble.
Much more encouraging is the statement from Saga's chief executive about the future: "We are not doing this to create competitive tension [among private equity bidders]. We are writing to three million people in the next couple of days ... because there was a feeling that a float had a real opportunity of delivering significant shareholder value. We are trying very hard to manage customers' expectations by telling customers up front what we are doing. There is a prospect of telling people we may not be floating."
Well, whatever happens, there seems no harm in registering for the share offer, as I have, by visiting www.saga.co.uk, and there is no age limit on applications. No word on the price yet, of course, but let's hope this saga has a happy ending.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Barclays's new life insurance heralds a revolution on the high street
How to protect your assets if the stock markets begin to head south again
Bargain Hunter: Timing is everything in making big savings on beer, wine and whisky
Seven fund superstars to trust with your cash
Mark Dampier: Don't listen to stock market doom-mongers - sit back and enjoy the sun
- 1 Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Sean Hannity reacts to Russell Brand's Israel-Gaza criticism: 'You're a dumb actor known for your failed marriage to Katy Perry'
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...
£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...
£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000