Ron Delnevo, managing director of Bank Machine, a division of US firm Cardtronics, has admitted he is heavily involved in the dissident group, called Members Against The Takeover. The group is trying to derail the merger between Portman and Nationwide by urging members to vote no in April.
Since its existence was first revealed by Mortgage Strategy last November, speculation has mounted about who was behind the pressure group, which has already advertised in the Daily Mail – which can cost up to 9,540 – and has an upmarket website.
It has also enlisted the help of a City public relations firm to bring its crusade to wider public attention.
Delnevo believes his fight to save Portman is a matter of democracy.
He says: “We have caught the mood which is sweeping this country concerning consumer choice. Just as people are rejecting huge corporates such as Tesco, we are asking – why do we need another Nationwide?
“If we succeed in stopping this merger it will be brilliant for dem-ocracy, consumer choice and the mutual movement.”
Delnevo joined Bank Machine as managing director in 2000 and led a 20m management buyout in 2003 with the help of private equity firm Bridgepoint. In 2005, the firm was sold to Cardtronics.
He says his involvement in the protest group is as a private individual and has nothing to do with his firm. Neither society has any known commercial connection with Bank Machine, although Nationwide has spoken out against fee-charging cashpoints such as the ones it operates.
Matthew Wyles, group development director at Portman, says Delnevo’s identity is “interesting”.
He adds: “Portman is a democracy. We welcome debate but our members must decide.”