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Building societies pledge mutuality despite pressure from carpetbaggers

  • 04/12/2001
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Building societies are standing firm against new attempts from members to force demutualisation and ...

Building societies are standing firm against new attempts from members to force demutualisation and cash in on possible windfalls.

The latest attack is on Nationwide, Portman Building Society and Coventry Building Society. Carpetbagger Tim Tanner confirmed he is standing for election on the board of directors on the three societies to help force demutualisation.

All three societies said they did not see Tanner’s actions as a threat and were confident they would remain mutual.

Yvonne White, media relations manager at Coventry BS, said: ‘Tanner informed us of his intentions and it is his democratic right. Our board is 100% against demutualisation and we do not see this as a threat.’

Mike Dobson, group communications manager at Portman Building Society, said it also remains committed to staying mutual.

‘We believe it is in the interest of our customers and I believe that, along with us, the other building societies will also remain mutual,’ he said.

Nationwide had a similar response. ‘We are utterly committed to mutuality. This is the only way we can create better pricing and lower fees for members,’ said Frank Creighton, senior press officer for the society.

Richard Yendall, another carpetbagger, has launched a similar assault on Britannia Building Society. He is also planning to stand for election on the society’s board with the intention of shifting the board’s decision. But Britannia BS said it also remains determined to stay mutual.

‘The best safeguard to stay mutual is the value we provide to members,’ said David Ginivan, spokesperson for Britannia BS.

Jennifer Holloway, external affairs manager at the Building Societies Association, said it is unlikely any remaining building societies will demutualise.

‘Many people have been opening accounts and mortgages with building societies in the hope of a windfall and are trying to force this to happen, rather than wait. Some are also taking new tactics by trying to get building societies to merge with banks instead of converting. But building societies are protecting themselves through charitable assignments and geographical boundaries so only genuine customers join.

‘All 67 societies are committed to mutuality and I do not think there will be any conversions in the near future,’ she said.


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