The death of the Marine and General Mutual


An interesting little story of the transience of corporate life here. The country's oldest company is about to disappear:

An insurance firm that can claim to be the oldest registered British company still in existence is about to disappear, following a takeover by Scottish Friendly.

Marine & General Mutual was incorporated in 1852 as a life insurance provider for teetotallers – who were considered a bigger than average risk at the time, given the dangers of drinking Victorian tap water.

M&GM, whose early customers include several passengers on the Titanic, has the company registration number 00000006. The five firms that were registered with lower numbers than M&GM no longer exist.

It's not entirely what it seems, in that there are businesses still extant that are older than this. It's partly a function of how late it was that it was possible to incorporate without a specific Act of Parliament to allow you to do so.

But even so it's a nice example of the transience of corporate life. Paul Ormerod has done interesting work on this (as have others in the US) pointing out that the giants of one generation tend not to be the corporate giants of the next. Companies fail, are eclipsed, merged, bought and generally just disappear over time. The image that some to our left have of corporate power being unbreakable simply isn't true in any manner.