Boss of Royal London says peace has broken out between his firm and rival insurer LV after bitter falling out, though failed merger talks not being revived
Peace: Royal London boss Barry O’Dwyer
The boss of Royal London says peace has broken out between his firm and rival insurer LV after a bitter falling out, though failed merger talks are not being revived.
Barry O’Dwyer’s comments follow the collapse of tie-up discussions in February last year. LV has since appointed a new boss, David Hynam, and committed to remaining an independent mutual.
‘I’ve met LV’s new chief executive briefly and had a really nice chat but no discussion about mergers or anything like that,’ said O’Dwyer. ‘I wished him well with what he’s doing. I think it’s on the right path.’
The firms, which are both mutuals owned by their members, fell out after LV’s former bosses tried to sell it to private equity firm Bain Capital for £530 million, rejecting a rival offer from Royal London.
However, the attempt to demutualise was thwarted when members voted against the takeover in 2021 following a campaign in The Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail.
O’Dwyer welcomed LV’s commitment to remaining a mutual.
‘At the time we couldn’t understand why LV needed to demutualise. I think we’ve been proved right,’ he said, adding that tough trading conditions in the sector made it likely that there would be mergers among life insurance, pension and asset management firms.
He added that he would consider mergers with other mutuals, but only if they made the first move.
‘There are no forced marriages in this sector – it would have to be a marriage of consent,’ he said, as Royal London last week reported a 58 per cent rise in annual pre-tax operating profits to £210 million.