Abbey estate agency chief to take early retirement

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ABBEY NATIONAL'S managing director in charge of the bank's loss-making estate agency and European businesses announced yesterday that he would retire at the end of the year.

Richard Baglin, 49, is managing director of new businesses at Abbey, which include the Cornerstone Estate Agency chain, European businesses and general insurance operations. He has held the job, an executive board position, for four years.

He has been with Abbey National for 28 years, and at senior management level for 20.

Last month Abbey announced a pounds 10m loss for the estate agency business for the six months to 30 June, compared with a pounds 7m loss the year before. The division, which includes European subsidiaries, made a pounds 1m loss, after a pounds 30m provision for bad debts largely related to the European operations.

A spokesman for the bank said there was no connection between Mr Baglin's decision to take early retirement and the poor performance of the estate agency and European businesses. 'It was a purely personal decision,' the spokesman said. Mr Baglin was unavailable for comment.

Some stockbrokers' analysts doubted that Mr Baglin had been forced out because of the estate agency's losses, since its performance was by no means the worst in the industry.

Mr Baglin will remain on Abbey National's board as non-executive director of its French and Italian subsidiaries. It is expected that his replacement will come from within the group.

Abbey's shares fell 6p to 254p yesterday.