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Windfalls on the way from Sun Life of Canada

A QUARTER of a million Sun Life of Canada policyholders in the UK will get payouts worth an average of pounds 2,800, after the insurer's members voted overwhelmingly to demutualise, the company said yesterday.

More than 400 million shares will be distributed among a million with- profits policyholders across the world when the company floats in a multiple listing in the spring.

Eligible members will receive at least 75 shares - worth between 14 and 21 Canadian dollars (585p and 878p) apiece - with more for those who have had the most invested with Sun Life, or who have been with the company for longest. Around 98 per cent voted in favour of the demutualisation, the fourth in Canadian history, the company announced at ameeting in Toronto yesterday.

The company says the move will give it the flexibility to raise cash for acquisitions and to compete as other Canadian firms also float. Sun Life has scaled back its headquarters in Britain since the UK business posted a pounds 600m loss last year. But it promises to begin increasing its salesforce and product range in the New Year.

The chairman and chief executive Donald Stewart will be writing to its members in January to ask if they want their windfalls in cash or shares.