About £90m could be made available to charities when the savings and investment company Standard Life cashes in the unclaimed shares left over from its demutualisation 10 years ago.

At the Edinburgh-based company’s annual general meeting in London yesterday, Sir Gerry Grimstone, chair of the company, told shareholders the money would go towards creating one of the largest foundations in the UK.

After the company was floated on the stock exchange in 2006, the unclaimed shares were placed into the Standard Life Charitable Trust, which will come to an end in July.

Based on the number of shares left unclaimed and the company’s current share price, this is expected to free up about £90m.

Third Sector understands that nearly all of the money raised by the sale is expected to be directly available to charities through the new Standard Life Foundation, but more details will be decided in the coming weeks.

At the AGM, Grimstone said: "We have made, and continue to make, every effort to trace those entitled to these shares and we continue to do so almost 10 years on."

But after the trust closes in July, he said, the company intended "to use its proceeds to strengthen our charitable activities considerably".

The foundation would focus on addressing the so-called "savings gap", whereby people are unable to save enough to generate a desirable income for their retirement, he said.

"The savings gap is an issue that touches, directly and indirectly, many millions of people in the UK," he said. "And it is in this area that the foundation will work to support public interest research, practical activities and other very worthwhile work.

"We will be gifting to the foundation the proceeds of the unclaimed shares, which should be worth, depending on the share price of course, about £90m. It will be one of the largest bodies of its type in the UK."

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