Lovells backs friendly society in ground-breaking Frizell takeover

Lovell White Durrant advised the UK's largest friendly society, Liverpool Victoria, on its recent acquisition from Marsh & McLennan of financial services company Frizell Group for about £190 million.

Frizell is the UK's largest provider of financial services products to members of public sector bodies. Freshfields advised on the sale of Frizell on behalf of its parent company.

The Lovells team was led by John Young, head of the firm's corporate insurance practice. He was backed up by John Gilbert, an expert in friendly societies regulation, and Adrian Lickorish, a banking specialist.

“This was a ground-breaking transaction for the friendly society movement, both in its size and complexity,” said Young.

“It demanded an unusual combination of expertise, involving not only the negotiation of the contract documentation but also advice on the implications of the legislation governing friendly societies, banks and insurance brokers and on Lloyds bye-laws.”

Young added that the acquisition would enable Liverpool Victoria to increase its customer base and broaden the range of distribution methods and products available to members.

The successful conclusion of the deal is expected to strengthen the friendly society movement and to demonstrate the continuing advantages of mutuality.

Over the past two years an increasing number of mutual building societies have faced takeover bids from rival financial groups or announced that they plan to convert to plc status. The country's largest society, Halifax, is to float on the London stock market.

But most friendly societies appear to be anxious to hold on to their mutuality while expanding their core businesses.