C&G protesters demand debate about takeover

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THE PROPOSED takeover of Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society by Lloyds Bank has stirred up a fledgling protest movement, writes Vivien Goldsmith.

Peter Nicholson, an account- holder from Gillingham, Dorset, is not against the society losing its mutual status.

'I would rather see it become a public limited company in its own right and offer shares to investors. It should at least open the door to other potential bidders. Would you sell your best antiques to the first bidder?'

He has been contacted by other C&G members who would like to see some debate about the alternatives to the takeover.

Many believe that the current offer is too low, or the share-out is unfair. Others would like to see the society maintain its mutual status.

At the annual meeting this week no discussion about the takeover was allowed. C&G says a special general meeting scheduled for November will provide a forum.

But Mr Nicholson says that is too late. 'The takeover could well be a fait accompli by then.'

One option is for members to collect 100 signatures to petition for a special general meeting sooner.

Mr Nicholson does not see himself as a white knight but believes firmly that members should be given the democratic right as owners of the society to examine the full facts of the merger.

He would like to see a regionally based group to co-ordinate protest.

Anyone interested in becoming involved or who wants to express a view should write to:

C&G Alternatives c/o Personal Finance Department, The Independent, 40, City Road, EC1Y 2DB.

Letters will be forwarded.

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