R1bn in Mutual shares unclaimed

R1bn in Mutual shares unclaimed

2006-05-31 13:01

Johannesburg - Time is running out for the thousands of current and former Old Mutual (OML) policyholders who have not yet claimed their Old Mutual shares issued to them following the group's demutualisation in 1999.

Unclaimed shareholders have until August 31 2006 to claim their shares, as they will not be able to do so after that date, Old Mutual said in a statement on Wednesday.

SA's biggest life assurer said it awarded free shares to approximately 3 million South African policyholders at its demutualisation.

At the time of the company's listing in July 1999, Old Mutual had successfully traced and transferred over R2.5bn free shares to 2.4 million. About 1.1 million policyholders sold their shares at the listing.

As of May 24 2006, there were 59 million unclaimed shares worth roughly R1.2bn left in the Unclaimed Share Trust (UST).

Jerry Van Niekerk, Executive General Manager Market Development at Old Mutual said when Old Mutual demutualised it awarded free shares to all its qualifying members who held policies at midnight on September 25 1998.

The shares that were not yet claimed were put into the UST for safekeeping until the rightful shareholder came forward and claimed their shares.

In accordance with the Demutualisation Scheme, policyholders were entitled to submit claims for confirmation for a period of 5 years. This trust was accordingly closed on August 21 2004.

However, to enable the company to extend the period and empowered by approvals from the shareholders, the directors of Old Mutual plc established new trusts in the various territories so that they could continue their tracing efforts and entertain confirmations for a further 2 year period.

"These new trusts will close on August 31 2006", says Van Niekerk.

Old Mutual has no plans to extend this period.