The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK

Documents: 14/02/2001 - EMAG meeting with the new Equitable chairman

14th February 2001 - EMAG meeting with the new Equitable chairman

Held at Equitable's Basinghall St. office.

Present: Vanni Treves (next chairman ELAS), Alistair Dunbar (senior public relations manager ELAS), Vincent Nolan (chairman EMAG), Paul Braithwaite (deputy chairman EMAG), Jeremy Lever QC and Colin Slater (EMAG members), and Jack Denbin (committee member EPHAG).

AD distributed the press release and VT talked about his education and background. He has had no previous involvement with any of the existing Board and was approached by the headhunters.

Fulbright Scholar, joined Macfarlanes in 1970, senior partner for the dozen years to 1999 and still a partner. His peers approve VT's acceptance of offer because it is in the public's interest. Also chairman of Channel 4 and London Business School, plus numerous non-execs. The prospective salary of £300k to Macfarlanes reduced at VT's request to £60k, with residue at discretion of board at year end. VT has converted half his ELAS fund from GAR to nonGAR, thus creating a neutral personal position.

VT does not believe in non-exec chairmen. Anticipates job will be front-loaded and VT will devote as much time as it demands. Will spend next two weeks with headhumters recruiting a new Board, prior to formally taking up the post on March 1st. VT wishes to go on the road: e.g. Edinburgh, Bristol, Birmingham etc to meet and hear policyholders and address their concerns.

VN described EMAG as being independent of any affiliations (funded by members), non-partisan re GARs/nonGARs, constituted to seek information and influence to benefit all membership classes. Information disseminated, as an example of transparency to ELAS, through website: www.emag.org.uk. EPHAG, sponsored by Whitechurch, are dedicated to the interests of nonGARs.

VT has extensive experience of management. e.g. 55 senior "opinionated" partners. Macfarlanes, with circa 500 employees, is a very open organisation. VT lectures students at LBS on corporate governance.

VT agreed to set up a meeting in early March with EMAG to discuss areas of concern, with agenda submitted in advance. In response to VT's offer to provide anything we want. Two immediate requests were made for items that have been withheld. The paper prepared by Charles Thompson (new actuary) which demonstrates that the Halifax deal is more beneficial to policyholders than alternatives and the Halifax contract details, with particular regard to the 10 year management contract of the with-profits fund by Clerical Medical. PB pointed out that these had been given to the FSA but not shared with members.

VT said that ELAS will need people who can supervise Halifax. He said that he knows quite a lot about investment management and is accustomed to being a watchdog. The contract does give ELAS powers to dismiss on failure to meet performance criteria.

VT does not wish to spend much of his own time looking back. He had no influence over the Halifax terms and accepts that the deal is "set in stone".

JD said that EPHAG will meet Chris Headdon on Feb 16th p.m. and has already asked for a commitment to a wide-ranging legal audit (to be paid for by ELAS), to be conducted by an independent firm of solicitor. The purpose being to examine whether there are any possible fruitful avenues of possible recovery of £1bn.

VT responded that if there is any evidence of breach of duty he will not stand in the way of any investigation. Further, if the Society has any likely claim then he will support it. VT's concern is to do the best for policyholders.

There was a discussion of the progress of the new independent legal counsel's second opinion, commissioned at EMAG's instigation. Concern was expressed at the narrow terms of the brief by ELAS's solicitors (Denton, Wilde). It was agreed that VT and JL should invite Nicholas Warren to an informal meeting prior to him writing his response.

On the subject of capping, VT acknowledged that ELAS and Halifax had already done a great deal of work and that we will have to see if a compromise is achievable. To this end the Board will need objective advice from independent advisors on what is possible. VT will only associate himself with a deal that is saleable to members.

For the new Board's composition VT will seek to recruit from a range of disciplines: actuarial, investment, NAPF, legal, action group and, for continuity, an existing director.

VT confirmed that he was happy for a note on the meeting to be put on EMAG's website.

Paul Braithwaite
15th February, 2001