A&L rebel customers fight flat-rate payout

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Alliance & Leicester Building Society is facing a mounting campaign by rebel customers who object to the flat-rate payout it has proposed for its flotation next year.

Pat Mountain, 63, is a retired businessman who has been with A&L for 30 years, and he has set up an "Action Group" to win better compensation for "loyal long-term investors".

The society caused a stir when it announced 10 days ago that it intends to give a flat-rate 250 shares (worth an estimated pounds 1,000) to all members who had a minimum balance of pounds 100 at 31 December 1995.

This is in contrast to other societies which are converting to plc status, such as the Halifax, which have a sliding scale rewarding bigger and more long- term investors.

Mr Mountain has written to Peter White, chief executive of A&L, requesting a face-to-face meeting to put his claims for better treatment. Mr Mountain said: "The Alliance & Leicester will have had a shock over the last few days about the extent of the deep anger which their move has provoked. They should take note of that protest which is clearly being felt by many thousands of investors."

The action group claims it has been inundated with calls. "But with 2.4 million investors we know we are only seeing the barest tip of the iceberg. Even so it is clear to us that an overwhelming majority of those investors intend shutting down their accounts with A&L."

Mr Mountain said in one hour alone he took calls from people whose collective investment in the Society was nearly pounds 2m. "This must surely be deeply worrying for A&L - and possibly even more so for the stock market authorities, who surely can't relish the appalling odour surrounding a company shortly to be floated on their Exchange."