Halifax to recruit 500 staff for new Net bank

HALIFAX ANNOUNCED plans yesterday to recruit up to 500 staff in Edinburgh to set up the new Internet bank, which it intends to launch next March.

HALIFAX ANNOUNCED plans yesterday to recruit up to 500 staff in Edinburgh to set up the new Internet bank, which it intends to launch next March.

The bank outlined its plans for the new venture, provisionally called greenfield.co, earlier this week. Jim Spowart, who quit Standard Life Bank to set up the new venture, said the fact that the bank had moved so swiftly to lease space for the new venture was evidence of its determination to get the operation up and running as soon as possible. "The Halifax is moving at pace," he said.

Yesterday's announcement coincided with the news that Andrew Armishaw, head of First Direct, HSBC's telephone bank, had been poached by e-loan, an Internet mortgage bank being set up with the backing of Rupert Murdoch's e-partners and Japan's Softbank.

His defection, which overshadowed First Direct's own Internet banking launch yesterday, sparked a hasty reshuffle of top management at HSBC UK.

David Mills, head of personal banking, will additionally take on the role of chairman of First Direct, a position he previously held. Graham Picken, chief executive of HSBC Asset Finance, becomes general manager of corporate and commercial banking. HSBC said the changes will create a unified banking operation organised on customer rather than product lines. It said the moves are in line with management reorganisations at other banks.

First Direct is following the example of Barclays and launching its own free Internet service provider (ISP) as well as a fully interactive Internet bank.

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