AA members opt for pounds 249 windfall

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The Independent Online
MEMBERS OF the Automobile Association have voted decisively in favour of abandoning the organisation's mutual status to accept a pounds 1.1bn takeover by Centrica, the supply arm of the former British Gas.

Figures yesterday by the motoring body showed 96 per cent of the 3.15 million members who voted by post approved the move, announced in July. The turn-out was 67 per cent.

Eligible AA members will receive a payment of up to pounds 248 by 15 October, slightly more than initial forecasts. Those subject to the full rate of income tax - estimated at 500,000 - will be able to bank about pounds 185.

Sir Brian Shaw, the AA chairman, said: "We are delighted such an overwhelming majority followed the AA committee's recommendation to support this deal. With the backing of Centrica the AA will be in a position to continue providing the finest road services."

A final set of figures will be released on Monday after votes from a special general meeting of AA members, which was held yesterday in London, have been included. At the session, Sir Brian endured a three-hour barrage of criticism from enraged AA supporters, who felt the 94-year-old body should preserve its mutual status into the new millennium.

"We are still going to call you members, although technically you will be customers," Sir Brian told the 500-strong audience. Centrica, which operates credit card services alongside its energy-supply business, estimates it can shave pounds 85m in costs as it absorbs the AA. Analysts suggest up to 2,500 AA staff could lose their jobs.