Scottish Friendly Set to Acquire Britain’s Oldest Company


Would you call yourself a nostalgic person? If you would then you might be interested to know that the oldest surviving company in Britain is soon to be taken over by a company which is just 10 years its junior.

Marine & General Mutual, a company which was founded in 1852 and holds the registration number 00000006, wasn’t the first business ever to be incorporated in Britain but it does lay claim to being the oldest surviving company, with the 5 companies that preceded it no longer trading. On February 2nd 2015 it was announced that the company was subject to a takeover bid from Glasgow born financial firm Scottish Friendly, a company which – being founded in 1862 as the City of Glasgow Friendly Society – is only 10 years its junior.

Marine and General started life as the ‘UK Temperance and General Provident Association’ and it used to provide discounted life insurance to sailors who made the decision to abstain from alcohol. Now, this may not seem all that innovative on the surface of things, but when you consider that at the time insurer’s actually penalised sailors for abstaining from alcohol, you can see that ‘Marine and General’ as they are now known were actually assessing risk in a way that went against the common reasoning of the time. If you want to know the reason why seamen were being penalised for taking a decision that in today’s world would otherwise be considered to be a healthy habit, then you can find the answer in this article from the Independent.

If approved by the court and the firm’s members, the move is set to double the amount of funds which Scottish Friendly currently has under management to around £2bn, at which point the insurance company which lays claim to being Britain’s oldest registered company will cease to exist.

Try not to feel too upset about the takeover though, as it will actually secure a long term future for the customers of a company which had already closed its doors to new business back in 2013. Chief executive of Marine & General Mutual David Gulland was quoted as saying:

“We have been seeking to secure the long-term future of our customers through a transfer to another organisation,” on the subject of the suitor he said, ”This involved a thorough process considering a number of potential operations and we were delighted to select Scottish Friendly.”

So even though Britain’s oldest company is to be no more, at least the members and customers of the Marine & General Mutual can feel happy that, as long as the deal is approved, their long-term future is now secure in the hands of Scottish Friendly.

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