Time running out for thousands of unclaimed Old Mutual Shareholders
Shares worth over R1 billion still unclaimed
Time is running out for the thousands of current and former Old Mutual policyholders who have not yet claimed their Old Mutual shares issued to them following the group's demutualisation in 1999 to come forward and do so.
Unclaimed shareholders have until 31 August 2006 to claim their shares, as they will not be able to do so after that date. As of 24 May 2006, there were 59 million unclaimed shares worth roughly R1.2 billion left in the Unclaimed Share Trust (UST).
"When Old Mutual demutualised at the beginning of 1999 it awarded free shares to all its qualifying members who held policies at midnight on 25 September 1998", says Jerry Van Niekerk, Executive General Manager Market Development at Old Mutual. "There were approximately 3 million South African policyholders from all walks of life who were allocated free shares."
At the time of the company's listing in July 1999, Old Mutual had successfully traced and transferred over 2.5 billion free shares to 2.4 million South African shareholders. About 1.1 million policyholders sold their shares at the listing.
When Old Mutual listed, 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 21 August 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 31 August 2006", says Van Niekerk. "We have no plans to extend this period. The trusts have been open for so long that we are now receiving hundreds of duplicate claims from people who cannot remember whether they have already claimed their shares."
He comments that Old Mutual has gone to great lengths to track down unclaimed shareholders, including advertising campaigns on TV, radio, in the mail and in the press. "We will continue to trace shareholders until the very end. We are currently conducting an extensive data mining exercise incorporating internal databases, using the latest information possible. Traced shareholders will be contacted both telephonically and by post."
He says as well as shareholders being traced by Old Mutual, the group is still employing the use of an external tracing agent. "We will advertise and conduct talk shows on a variety of radio stations. We will also be advertising on TV and in national newspapers. Old Mutual branches and the extensive network of financial advisors and brokers are also being used."
Unclaimed shares following closure of the UST
Following the closure of the UST on 31 August, the remaining unclaimed shares will be sold and the proceeds used in accordance with the directions given by the Old Mutual plc Board. Old Mutual is considering a number of options and will provide details in due course.
Claiming your shares
You can telephone 082 233 8383 to check if you qualified for free shares. You can also write to: Trust and Administration Department, PO Box 177, Mutualpark, 7451 or fax (021) 504 7947. If you do so, please also provide a certified copy of your ID document.
Please note that telephone enquiries regarding policyholders' unclaimed shares must be followed up with written documentary proof in order to qualify. Certified copies must be sent or delivered to Old Mutual and must be received by Old Mutual Trust and Administration Department no later than 17h00 on Thursday 31 August 2006 in order to be taken into consideration.
Elian Wiener,Head of External Communications
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