Former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring head Peter Bloxham has reappeared as a policyholder advocate at Prudential, just as the insurance giant instructed Freshfields on a headline deal with troubled mutual Equitable Life.
Bloxham will be representing the Pru’s policyholders in an attempt to reattribute £9bn of the insurer’s inherited estate of its with-profits sub-fund. Norton Rose is representing Bloxham in his role as policyholder advocate, with Lovells representing the Pru.
Bloxham is currently suing Freshfields for age discrimination in a case that is expected to be heard early in the summer. Freshfields declined to comment on the case or on Bloxham’s new appointment.
Bloxham said: “My principal task over the coming months will be to familiarise myself with Prudential’s with-profits business. I’ll start by engaging specialists and setting up a team to enable me to examine the Prudential’s figures and conduct a very thorough review of the underlying data – some of which goes back almost 150 years.”
Freshfields is representing the Pru on its purchase of Equitable’s £1.8bn portfolio of with-profits annuity, with Lovells advising Equitable. These annuities from Equitable will be transferred into the Pru’s with-profits fund, which is the subject of Bloxham’s review.
The Pru will be responsible for a payout to around 62,000 former Equitable annuitants, subject to court approval and to an Equitable policyholder vote. Equitable’s with-profits annuities have been at the centre of a protracted legal case, which saw the mutual unsuccessfully sue its accountant Ernst & Young for £2.2bn and its directors for £3.3bn.