Staff group chief backs private equity buyout of LV=

The head of a staff group at LV= has backed the mutual’s controversial sale to a US private equity company as a crunch vote on the deal looms.

Greg Batterbee, chairman of LV=’s Employee Consultative Forum, said in a letter that he is “fully supportive” of Bain Capital’s £530 million bid for the 178-year-old insurer.

“I personally believe that the proposed transaction with Bain Capital provides the best outcome for our employees and members alike, and secures a bright future for our well-loved brand,” he wrote.

“As such I am fully supportive of the partnership and would encourage you to use your vote in favour of the deal.”

The employee group provides a line for managers at LV= to consult with their 1,300 staff on any changes that will affect them.

The Bain deal, which will see LV=, formerly Liverpool Victoria, lose its mutual status, has been heavily criticised by politicians and by some vocal members.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has urged members to reject the sale at a meeting next week.

Bids from other players would have resulted in many immediate job losses, Mr Batterbee wrote.

But, while his letter claimed that the Bain bid “preserves UK jobs over the long term”, it did not clarify whether that means all jobs are safe.

“LV= is a significant employer in the Bournemouth, Hitchin and Exeter areas, and Bain Capital have committed to all these locations,” it said.

“The other bids could have resulted in large numbers of immediate job losses and closure of sites – a less than desirable outcome.

“In contrast, Bain Capital want to provide the opportunity for people to be part of a growing business.”

The letter echoed comments made by LV= chief executive Mark Hartigan that Bain is the “only business prepared to invest in our growth”.

It said: “The Bain Capital transaction represents an investment of £160 million to help grow the business and reclaim LV=’s position as a top three provider.

“Crucially it also keeps LV= independent, and preserves UK jobs over the long term, as well as providing exciting future opportunities for our people.”

Three-quarters of members will need to back the takeover in an online meeting next Wednesday for the deal to go ahead. Turnout needs to be at least 50% for the vote to count.