Private Investor: The future is grey - and bright - for the Saga empire

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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
News
people
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living