Standard Life's chairman Gerry Grimstone has told shareholders their returns since the company demutualised have well outstripped the FTSE-100.

Mr Grimstone told the annual meeting in Edinburgh that as a mutual Standard Life "had some issues" which prompted its conversion to a plc in 2006, since when total returns for those who bought discounted shares had been 174%, compared with 53% for the blue-chip index.

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Without naming the Cooperative but alluding to a mutual "beginning with C", Mr Grimstone said that mutuality "in the wrong hands can be a very dangerous force", adding: "There is no better model for a complex financial services company than to be a plc with a strong board."