Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Presbyterians to lose millions as Mutual collapses

Thousands of Presbyterians face losing millions of pounds following the collapse of a mutual society, it was revealed yesterday.

Investors in the Belfast-based Presbyterian Mutual Society, which has been put into administration, are being given the stark choice of agreeing to get back some of their money over time — or less, if it goes into liquidation.

The worth of the society, which went into administration in November after a run on its funds, has plunged by tens of millions, it was revealed.

Nobody wants to take it over, said the administrator. He has written to 9,500 investors making clear that getting back all of their investment is not an option.

He made a series of proposals which, if accepted, would see an orderly run-down of the society’s business over time through a formal arrangement allowed for under insolvency legislation.

A statement from the administrator, Arthur Boyd of Arthur Boyd & Company, said: “This would have the effect of repaying part of the members’ investments over a period to be agreed.”

He added: “If the proposals are not accepted, the society will have to be placed in liquidation, with the likelihood of members receiving less money back than if they proceeded with the formal arrangement.”

Members have until January 30 to return voting papers, with a majority of more than 50% needed to proceed.

Mr Boyd said that he held talks with parties interested in investing in or purchasing the society so monies could be returned to members. To date, there have been no offers to purchase or invest. Mr Boyd said it was unlikely the society could continue.

The society hit the buffers after what was described as an unprecedented increase in requests to withdraw money when the credit crunch bit last autumn.

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