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Nationwide reopens doors - at a price

Nationwide Building Society yesterday announced it would reopen its doors to new accounts from Monday. The moves comes a few weeks after the society defeated speculators who tried to win free shares by forcing it to demutualise and float on the stock market.

The society will continue to keep most of its minimum levels at pounds 5,000 until the level of new account openings becomes clear, with the exception of Tessas, which have a pounds 3,000 minimum investment floor.

Nationwide's decision leaves Birmingham Midshires as the only society to keep its doorsclosed to new accounts, although most others have raised minimum levels to between pounds 500 and pounds 2,500. Birmingham Midshires is rumoured to be in takeover talks with Royal Bank of Scotland.

Brian Davis, chief executive at Nationwide, said: "We arepleased to be welcoming once again new savers."

Nationwide was forced to turn away new applicants after being inundated by a flood of cash prior to a vote last month for Nationwide's board, in which five demutualisation candidates were standing. But a record turnout of more than 1.3 million voters rejected the pro-conversion candidates by a 70 per cent majority.