B&B vows to fight predators as 62% vote for conversion

BRADFORD & Bingley yesterday vowed to resist predatory approaches and to become an independent high-street lender after 62 per cent of members who voted backed conversion to a bank.

After the annual meeting in a marquee on a cricket pitch in Bingley, West Yorkshire, next to the society's headquarters, executives said the society's conversion would take the form of an independent listing on the London Stock Exchange. This is likely to take place within 15 months after members formally approve conversion plans.

Likely predators for Bradford & Bingley include Lloyds TSB, NatWest and AXA, the French insurance giant. Claude Bebear, group chief executive of AXA, is interested in buying a UK building society.

Lindsay MacKinlay, B&B chairman, said the board would have a duty to consider approaches from interested bidders if it affected the value of the society when it converts. "It would be most unwelcome, but the board would obviously have to think about the options." However, he said the board had received no approaches so far.

Analysts believe an independent B&B would achieve a market capitalisation of between pounds 2.5bn and pounds 3bn if it floats. The society has 220 building society branches, 400 local agencies and 370 estate agents. It also has 7,700 staff and reserves of pounds 1bn.

Recently B&B revamped its image after research showed that the bowler- hatted image of Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley was sexist. Last year the society made post-tax profits of pounds 84m, up 33 per cent on the previous year.

Christopher Rodrigues, chief executive of B&B since 1996, said he was disappointed by the vote, which represents an emphatic rejection of his arguments in favour of mutuality. "I am very sad about what happened today, but democracy has taken its path and I happen to believe in democracy."

He insisted there was nothing to prevent him continuing as chief executive. He still believed in the principle of mutuality, but customer service would not be affected. "I will do everything in my power to carry out the members' wishes going forward."

Executives admitted savings rates would go down and mortgage rates up as a result of the vote. They said the society would have to be more efficient, suggesting further cost cuts are likely. They declined to comment on a likely level of redundancies.

After closing to new savings customers for four months, Bradford & Bingley will reopen all products to new customers.

At the meeting yesterday, angry pro-mutual members expressed disappointment at the vote. Some called for the board to continue its campaign against conversion ahead of the formal vote due later this year. One said: "There is still time to stress, by fighting like political lions, that members should still vote against conversion. The board should carry on that fight."

Outlook, page 13

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?