Standard Life investors fail to claim free shares worth £270m

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The Independent Online

An Essex resident is sitting on the equivalent of an unclaimed lottery win from Standard Life, it emerged yesterday.

The policyholder is due 45,136 free shares from the life insurer from last year's demutualisation, but has yet to stake a claim. At yesterday's closing price of 303p, down 3p, the shares were worth £136,762 compared to £112,389 at Standard's 249p flotation price.

Some 235,000 people have yet to claim the free shares they were due when the insurerconverted to a stock market-listed company last July. Their 88.9 million shares are worth about £270m. Other big windfalls yet to be claimed include 41,317 shares in the Bristol area (worth £125,191), 38,465 in Co Kildare, Ireland (£116,549), 36,923 in Derby (£111,877) and 36,614 in Glasgow (£110,940). The shares are currently held in Standard's Unclaimed Assets Trust, and equate to a 4.2 per cent stake in the company. A further £18m in cash is also being held on behalf of overseas policyholders who were eligible for windfalls but were not able to claim free shares.

Standard is planning a mailshot in the first quarter of the year to try to contact those yet to claim. "We sent a lot out at the time of the flotation and people were possibly put off by the bulky documents," said Barry Cameron, a Standard Life spokesman. "We are looking at different ways of sending the letters out in the hope of persuading people to open them."

Standard said around 7,000 people a month were still coming forward to claim their free shares or cash and anyone entitled to them has until 10 July, 2016 to claim. After that, the proceeds of the trust will be used for "general corporate purposes".

The company is to pay its first dividend in May for the second half of last year. It will be 5.4p a share. On 10 July, one bonus share for every 20 held will be issued to those who received free shares or who bought shares in the preferential demutualisation offer and have held them for 12 months.