Exclusive: Bankhall poised to buy Norwich Union mortgage club

Speculation is mounting that Bankhall is to buy Norwich Union&#39s mortgage club, bringing its total intermediary base to around 40,000.

Although both Bankhall and NU refused to comment on what they say is market speculation sources believe the deal is definitely going ahead and its announcement is imminent.

Such a deal would put Bankhall in a prime position in the run-up to FSA regulation as by far the biggest force in the mortgage adviser support area.

A source says: “The size of its membership gives it substantial bargaining power in negotiating proc fees with lenders and great economies of scale.”

This latest move to strengthen its position comes in the wake of its acquisition of John Malone&#39s Premier Mortgage Service from Prudential in January, and its strategic alliance with Paymentshield in February.

Bankhall set up its own mortgage support service Point One in October 2001, the first clear sign of its intention to be a major player in the mortgage market.

There could be further deals to come given Bankhall joint chief executive Paul Hogarth&#39s comments at the time of the PMS announcement: “We will not rest on our laurels and will continue to enhance our offering with further key strategic development s in the future.”

It is not known how this will affect NU technical mortgage development John Whitehead who runs the club.

NU mortgage club has been unwilling to state whether it would follow other life companies like Legal & General and develop a network principal offering for brokers wanting to become appointed representatives.

This move seems to be part of a strategy on NU&#39s part to focus on core business as its Your Move estate agency business is also thought to be up for sale.

Bankhall and NU spokesmen both say: “We do not comment on market speculation.”