Carpetbaggers rush to join Co-op

The Co-op has been inundated with carpetbaggers seeking membership of the movement in the hope of receiving a building society-style windfall if the group is broken up.

The Co-operative Retail Society says it signed up 1,000 members in one day, while the Co-operative Wholesale's headquarters in Rochdale has received hundred of calls.

The gold rush has been prompted by claims from Andrew Regan's Lanica Trust that he would bypass the Co-op's board and offer pounds 1,000 to each of the CWS's 500,000 members if his attempt to buy parts of its non-food interests proved successful. Co-op membership only costs pounds 1.

The news is reported in a front page story in the latest issue of Co- Operative News, which slams Mr Regan for mis-leading the carpetbaggers.

Under the headline "Have you got pounds 8bn Mr Regan?", the article says he would have to extend his offer to the movement's 8 million members. It criticises Mr Regan as a misguided predator who does not understand the Co-op's workings. "Mr Regan seems to becoming increasingly desperate in his attempts to acquire parts of the Co-operative movement," it says.

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