Conversion of Woolwich wins 95% backing
Wednesday 12 February 1997
At least 1,000 Woolwich savers and borrowers attended the meeting, called to decide on the society's plans, which will lead to some 2.6 million members receiving free shares worth at least pounds 850 each. The number of votes in favour of conversion amounted to 95 per cent. Although the ballot had already been decided by the vast number of proxy votes cast in favour of the Woolwich plan, many in the audience applauded speeches against the society's pounds 3bn flotation.
John Stewart, group chief executive at Woolwich, said: "The three options we considered were remaining a building society and possibly merging with another; selling the Woolwich to an existing company; and converting to a public limited company." He claimed that changes in the financial services industry meant that Woolwich needed the flexibility of access to equity capital markets in order to expand. Selling the society would have imperilled its culture, values and strategic objectives.
Despite his argument, Thomas Lines, an investing member presently living in Brussels, said that research showed mutuals, whether building societies or insurers, offered better deals for their members than proprietory companies.
"Why can a mutual keep its borrowing rates low and its saving rates high?" Mr Lines asked.
"It is because it does not have to pay dividends to shareholders . It is in savers and borrowers' long-term interests that we remain a mutual."
He was backed by several speakers who also spoke out against Woolwich's pounds 50m conversion costs.
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford plane crash: Star Wars actor 'seriously injured' after light aircraft crash lands
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
iJobs Money & Business
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...
£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...