BSA positive about Nationwide merger

The chairman of the Building Societies Association says the Nationwide and Portman merger is not a sign of the decline of societies.

Speaking at the BSA annual lunch in London last week, chairman Matthew Bullock told the audience: “The merger is not a sign of consolidation or decline.

“It’s good news for Portman and the fact that a mutual will be the number two lender is great, but the announcement does not mean societies that are similar should be forced into copycat actions.”

Bullock’s comments were echoed by Ed Balls MP, economic secretary to the Treasury, who told the audience: “Commentators say that societies are declining but the evidence shows the mutual sector is robust. Societies are the leading sector in responsible lending and product innovation.

“Mutuals are delivering high value services and products. The society sector is vital to UK economics and the daily lives of milions of people.”

Nationwide and Portman revealed in September that they planned to merge. The deal is expected to become effective by the end of September next year. This will be the biggest ever building society merger, with the enlarged society being the UK’s leading mutual organisation with assets of more than £150bn.