Britannia members vote in favour of Co-operative merger

Members of Britannia have voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging with The Co-operative Financial Services.

More than 450,000 Britannia members voted at the society’s annual general meeting, held at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre today.

Some 88.6% of savings members voted in favour, and 86.2% of borrowing members supported the proposal.

The merger, which has already been approved by The Co-operative Group and CFS boards, is expected to become effective on 1 August, subject to confirmation by the Financial Services Authority.

Combining CFS, part of the world’s biggest consumer co-operative, with Britannia, the UK’s second biggest society, will create a business with £70bn of assets, nine million customers, 12,000 employees, more than 300 branches and 20 corporate banking centres.

The business will be led by current Britannia group chief executive Neville Richardson. Bob Burlton, the current CFS non-executive chairman, will chair the new board.

Richardson says: “I’m delighted that Britannia members have endorsed their Board’s recommendation to merge with CFS.

“They recognised that the combined business will offer them everything they love about Britannia – we’ll remain mutual, we’ll maintain an extensive branch network and we’ll continue to share profits with members – while offering them enhanced products and services, the benefits of being part of a larger group and the chance to earn even greater member rewards.

“The combined and complementary strengths of our businesses will offer customers a strong, fair and ethical alternative to banking plcs. Customers will be owners and will have available all the services they would expect from a major financial provider, together with a real say in setting strategy and a share of the profits.”

Bob Burlton, chairman of CFS, says: “This move will accelerate the momentum within the co-operative and mutual sector. Both businesses have been pursuing successful strategies independently and are strong in their own right but we recognise we could be even more successful by coming together to create the UK’s most trusted financial services business.”