EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Members of insurer Standard Life are expected to back a landmark proposal on Wednesday to scrap its mutual status and move towards Britain's biggest stockmarket debut in five years this summer.

The vote marks a radical departure for Europe's largest mutual life insurer, which in the past campaigned vigorously against "carpetbaggers", spending over 10 million pounds in 2000 to defeat one campaign for it to demutualise.

Chief Executive Sandy Crombie faced angry members and calls for his resignation in 2004 when, after only weeks at the helm, he said stringent funding and declining sales of with-profits policies, once the cornerstone of the UK life insurance market, forced Standard Life to look beyond policyholders for cash.

A solid turnout on Wednesday, backed by a strong postal vote, is wanted as a vote of confidence for Standard Life veteran Crombie. In the 2000 poll some 1.1 million policyholders voted, most by post.

"All along I've wanted a strong turnout so we can have a clear expression of will and a clear mandate for changes at Standard Life," Crombie said late on Tuesday.

At valuations released last month, Standard Life is expected to have a market value of 4.8 billion to 5.5 billion pounds ($9-10.3 billion) when it lists, making it the fifth largest UK-listed insurer. It plans to raise 1.1 billion pounds in the IPO, expected in July.

Crombie has shrugged off fears the insurer could delay its planned July offering, despite volatile market conditions putting a brake on IPO plans for some other companies. Continued...

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