Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG), a London-based specialist life assurance group, has signed an agreement to acquire domestic mutual life insurer Equitable Life.

Under the terms of the agreement, Equitable Life and all of its business will be transferred to Reliance Life, a specialist UK run-off manager established by LCCG.

The deal is part of LCCG’s strategy to buy open and closed book insurance assets in the UK and Europe. LCCG manages operations in the UK, Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Scheduled for completion by the end of next year, the transaction will maximise the capital distribution to members while managing the administrative costs of a life insurance business in run-off.

As part of the transaction, ‘with profits’ policies will switched to ‘unit linked’ funds and are expected to benefit from an increase in the current 35% capital distribution to a level expected to be between 60% and 70%.

LCCG said that the transfer to Reliance Life will provide policyholders with access to a broad range of funds.

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Commenting on the deal, LCCG group chief executive Paul Thompson said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Equitable Life to be its partner in providing on-going service, fund choice and security to its policyholders.

“As a group we have significant experience in delivering policyholder value through well-managed run-off processes and our expertise in unit linked assets. We continue to see significant opportunities to add to our run-off assets through additional closed book life insurance transactions.”

Equitable Life chairman Ian Brimecome said: “While it will be sad to bring an end to the oldest mutual assurer in the world, the potential to enhance with-profits policy values to the extent made possible by a transfer to Reliance Life is fundamentally helpful in distributing capital to our policyholders as fairly and as soon as possible.

“I believe Reliance Life’s approach to customer service, investment choice and policyholder security make for a compelling way forward.”

LCCG is a specialist life assurance group, which is focussed both on the International life market and on the management of in-force policies.