Outraged LV members shut out of online AGM due to ‘technical fault’ in wake of bungled private equity takeover
LV is facing a fresh customer backlash after members were shut out of its online annual meeting.
The life insurer was due to allow them to question the board for the first time since its disastrous takeover by private equity shark Bain Capital collapsed last year.
But after encouraging the members to take part in the annual general meeting (AGM) online, rather than attending the Bournemouth venue in person, LV succumbed to a massive technology failure.
As confused members grappled with the online portal, they were left unable to find out whether the questions they submitted were being satisfactorily answered.
Technical difficulties: LV was due to allow shareholders to question the board for the first time since its disastrous takeover by private equity shark Bain Capital collapsed last year
Many did not ask questions at all since they had no way of viewing the AGM.
An error message appeared on the screen, which stated: ‘We are very sorry that due to the ongoing technical fault the online stream of the AGM was not available today.’ Clarissa Johnson, an LV member, said: ‘A fiasco is the only way to describe it. It’s a farce – you couldn’t write it.’
Relations between LV and many of its member-owners broke down last year, as then-chairman Alan Cook and chief executive Mark Hartigan pushed for the Bain takeover.
This would have meant LV losing its treasured mutual status, meaning it is owned by its customers, and instead being snapped up by a profit-hungry investor.
It was a far cry from its roots in 1843, helping the poor of Liverpool pay for a decent burial for their families.
Members became even more suspicious of the Bain deal when it emerged that Hartigan would get a generous pay package if kept on under the new owners.
But Cook has since been replaced by Simon Moore, and Hartigan by former Bupa UK boss David Hynam.
A video recording of the meeting later appeared on the website. Moore, who was not able to attend the AGM due to having contracted Covid, reassured investors of his commitment to mutuality in a pre-recorded video message.
He said: ‘We are here to make a mutual future work for you.’
He also said he would ‘put LV members at the heart of what we do’. But customers were dubious about LV’s plan to abandon the members’ board, a 30-strong panel which met twice a year with the board to keep an eye on how the company was being run.
LV wants to replace it with an online community which anyone can join.
Johnson, however, pointed out that most of LV’s customers are elderly, tend to be less tech-savvy and would likely have been put off by the failure of the online AGM. LV was approached for comment.