Portman protesters vow to fight on

THE DISSIDENT action group protesting against Portman’s proposed merger with Nationwide has rejected offers of an armistice and warns it will topple the board before it lets the union takeplace. The action group, called Members Against the Takeover, aims to convince enough Portman members to vote no in the ballot on the merger next May, and has launched a national advertising campaign to draw attention to its goal.

Despite offers made last week in Mortgage Strategy by Portman’s chief executive Robert Sharpe to meet the disgruntled members and resolve their concerns, the group remains firm in its mission.

One founder member of the group, known only as John, says: “We have seven months to convince 25% of Portman’s members to vote no to a merger and we have already built up a decent head of steam. We will continue to advertise in the national press and also plan to picket Portman branches to rally staff and other members.

“We hope the Portman board understands the folly of this proposal but if it doesn’t, we will bring it down.”

The group’s campaign up to now and the sophistication of its website has led some to speculate about who is funding it and whether some of the group are Portman staff.

John admits that some of the group are Portman staff and that “concerned members with deep pockets” are funding the campaign.

Sharpe tells Mortgage Strategy: “We have attempted to make contact with the Portman protest group but representatives have said they do not wish to speak to us.

“We feel this is a shame as they have not given us the opportunity to explain the many positives of the proposed merger.”