Personal Finance: Loose Change

THE ECCENTRIC carpetbagger Michael Hardern is at it again. He is turning his fire on the Britannia Building Society, which has already once thrown out his bid to convert it to a bank and hand out huge windfalls to its members.

Although he is barred from having another go until 2001, Mr Hardern is trying to persuade Britannia members that the society should demutualise - and to show the world how strongly they feel. He wants them to agree to change the name of the society, and he proposes two alternatives: "Britannia Members Want Windfalls, Free Shares And Conversion To A PLC From A Building Society", or "Britannia Members Should Not Be Forced To Sign Away Windfall Rights In Order To Become Or Remain Members Of Their Building Society".

The Britannia is resolutely refusing to see the funny side. "Earlier this year our members didn't seem to be amused by Mr Hardern and his antics," a spokesman sniffed. "Defending the demutualisation vote cost our members around pounds 3m, and I don't think they got the joke. I don't expect he will get enough support."