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For those who hang on to their shares there is the possibility of benefiting from a big special dividend

Posted on 16 July 2010

For those who hang on to their shares there is the possibility of benefiting from a big special dividend. And for those who want to sell straight away, the A&L has put in place a free selling deal.Last but not least it could be time to carpetbag the Co-op. One Andrew Regan, a City whizzkid, and his investment vehicle, the Lanica Trust, are looking to take over and sell off part of the Co-op, and the suggestion is that the deal could be worth pounds 1,000 a head to Co-op members.The Co-op is keen to refute that any sell-off would yield windfalls to members and says it does not have to accept membership applications. But the fact is it is possible to become a Co-op member for pounds 1 and you can do so by filling in a form which should be available from your local Co-op store (if they don’t have any forms the shop should be able to get you one).Important to note is that one Co-op is not necessarily the same as another – there is a whole range of “societies” that make up the Co-operative movement – so to maximise your chances of benefiting from any deal it is worth joining as many Co-ops as is practical; also being a customer of the Co-op Bank does not make you a member.Conceivably this could be the best windfall return yet, or you could end up with nothing. Either way it’s worth the price of a lottery ticket, and is arguably a better bet.IT HAS long been an anomaly that despite mortgages being the biggest financial commitment of most people’s lives, home loan advice has not been regulated even to the degree involved in buying a relatively straightforward investment like a PEP.

Lenders have in the past insisted they give “information” not advice.But last week saw the publication of a new code of practice, which should should go a long way towards redressing this balance, including, importantly, a requirement to provide a “reason why” letter to justify a recommendation. That said the code does not come into force until July and does not yet cover mortgage brokers and other financial intermediaries.”Could do better” might also be the verdict on the new banking code which was also published last week. Banks and building societies will in future tell customers at least once a year if their interest rate has changed or if they are in an old account no longer open to new customers (a fair hint that it may start to lose competitiveness). But there is no mention of automatic compensation if a bank screws up.To my knowledge only the Co-op Bank gives this – at pounds 10 a time. If banks really want us to believe they are becoming more customer-friendly, they would do well to follow suit.. One Of the best-value PEPs is now available in a form that stands to lower the risks to investors who are worried that the stock market could be heading for a fall.

Investors who want to use up their PEP allowance before the end of the tax year now have the option, with the Legal & General UK index-tracking PEP, to have that money drip-fed into the stock market over time – so avoiding the risk of investing everything just before a crash, and potentially benefiting from lower prices in the future. Many City investors are cautious about the short-term outlook for the stock market and some, including Legal & General, believe a fall could occur.
The date for putting money into a PEP for this tax year is 5 April, at the latest. With most PEPs, money will be immediately exposed to the ups and downs of the stock market. But, if you wish, L&G will split this money into 12 portions and invest it monthly over the next year. In the meantime, uninvested cash is kept on deposit earning tax-free interest, cur- rently at the rate of 5.5 per cent.Phased investment is available on seven different L&G PEPs, in each case at no extra charge. But it is a particularly welcome addition to the attractions of the company’s index-tracker PEP.This PEP, which aims to match the performance of the UK stock market, is already the cheapest PEP of its kind and is an excellent deal for anyone looking for a straightforward stock-market investment.

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