Good riddance! LV boss finally quits seven months takeover debacle

Good riddance! Disgraced LV chief FINALLY steps down seven months after members blocked bid to sell historic insurer to private equit

LV’s boss is finally stepping down seven months after trying to sell the historic insurer to private equity.

Mark Hartigan – whose attempt to sell the 179-year-old mutual to Bain Capital was voted down by furious members in December – will leave as soon as a replacement is found.

His decision to stand down came as policy-holders – who own the business due to its status as a mutual – were preparing to stage a protest at its annual meeting later this year to oust him. 

Mark Hartigan – whose attempt to sell the 179-year-old mutual to Bain Capital was voted down by furious members in December – will leave as soon as a replacement is found

They were exasperated by the fact that Hartigan, a former army colonel, remained at the life insurer despite wasting more than £30million of their money on a failed attempt to sell it to private equity shark Bain.

Following the Mail’s successful campaign to save LV from the jaws of Bain, more than 1,000 members wrote to this paper calling for Hartigan to be ousted and expressing their support for a vote of no-confidence. 

Though his departure was welcomed yesterday, members and campaigners were dismayed that he seemingly will not give up the £511,000 bonus he scooped last year, despite his bungled effort to sell LV.

A spokesman for LV said he would also continue to be paid ‘in line with his stated remuneration policy’ until leaving – implying he will still be eligible for another handout this year on top of his £435,000 salary. The bonus alone could be worth £739,500 if Hartigan hits all his targets.

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake, who sits on Parliament’s Treasury Committee, said: ‘Mr Hartigan staked his role and reputation on forcing through a flawed, contrived sell-off of LV, which was patently against members’ and the wider insurance market’s interests.

‘He’s lost both, so it’s absolutely right that he now leaves the organisation without any bonus or pay-off.’ LV member John Higgins, 86, said: ‘His [Hartigan’s] bonus stuck in the craw for many members. 

‘Giving it up would surely be the right thing to do, since he wasted more than £30million of members’ money.’

When LV’s 1.2million members voted down the Bain deal last year, chairman Alan Cook – who had also pushed for a sale – resigned.

Customers were hoping Hartigan would follow suit – but were dismayed when he announced his intention to continue as chief executive of LV, which had stood the test of time as an independent business since 1843.

The 59-year-old stood to pocket a generous pay package and even take an equity stake in the company if he was kept on as boss under Bain’s ownership.

Such was their anger that members formed an informal alliance – headed by Higgins – to ensure their voices were heard. Higgins said: ‘I was going to give a long statement at the beginning of LV’s annual meeting later this year. 

The directors would probably have tried to shut me up, but I would have made the point that we own the business – not them. I know the other members would have given me support.

‘I would have castigated Hartigan and the other members of the board over how they had handled things over the last couple of years. And finally I would have pointed to the door and say, “Mr Hartigan, here’s the exit.”’

New boss ‘must back mutual ownership’ 

LV’s next boss must show their commitment to keeping the insurer’s treasured mutual status, MPs and members demanded last night.

As the firm announced chief executive Mark Hartigan was stepping down, campaigners called for a replacement who had members’ interests firmly at heart.

It follows suspicion from many members over Hartigan’s attempts to sell the insurer to private equity shark Bain Capital. 

Though last year he said it was the only way for the business to survive, he rode back on those claims early in 2022 after members voted the deal down.

Hartigan, who started his career in the British Army, had no experience of working for a member-owned or mutual business before joining LV.

Members hope recently appointed chairman Simon Moore will be able to pick a boss who is more suited for the role.

Labour MP Gareth Thomas, who leads the all-party parliamentary group on mutuals, said: ‘It’s encouraging that the new chairman has moved decisively to appoint a new boss.

‘I hope he will be equally decisive in finding someone to take the reins who is committed to mutuality.’

John Higgins, an LV member for more than 50 years, urged it to find a stand-out candidate who has worked for a building society or other mutual.