Mutual ownership of building societies, already under attack from carpetbaggers and assorted former butlers, this week received a further knock as a company was formally launched a vehicle to take over smaller institutions.

Murray Financial Corporation intends to target societies with assets between pounds 100m and pounds 2.5bn following its flotation on the Alternative Investment Market. The offer of subscription will be open only to share and warrant holders in the existing Cairngorms Building Societies Investment Trust.

Meanwhile, Nationwide Building Society is steeling itself for the ballot on proposals for its demutualisation, led by Michael Hardern, a former butler. The society is expected to announce a substantial increase in the existing pounds 200m annual "loyalty" benefits paid to its members just as ballot forms go out.

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