Nationwide forced to allow rebel candidates to stand for board

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The Independent Online

Nationwide, Britain's largest building society, has been forced to allow at least two rebel candidates to stand for its board at its annual general meeting on 25 July.

Tim Tanner and Alan Debenham, both members of Nationwide, have been told in the last few days that they have more than the minimum 250 valid nominations to go ahead with their candidacy.

A third candidate, Andrew Muir, has also delivered nominations to stand for the board. Mr Muir, a self confessed carpetbagger, unsuccessfully attempted to convert Nationwide to a public company last year.

Mr Tanner and Mr Debenham deny they are carpetbaggers. They are standing because they think Nationwide's governance is undemocratic and inconsistent with its mutual status.

Mr Tanner said: "I want better corporate governance, which Nationwide would do if it were really a mutual but it won't so it needs its arm twisted a little bit."

Mr Tanner has also submitted resolutions to change the rules of Nationwide, including allowing members to vote on directors' pay and changing voting forms so that they do not favour official candidates.

Mr Tanner, a manufacturing manager from Surrey, tried to bring about similar changes last year. He failed because Nationwide's lawyers said the resolutions broke Nationwide's rules. He is still waiting to hear if this year's resolutions are consistent with the rules and also have the necessary support of 500 members.

A spokesman for Nationwide said it was very unlikely its board would recommend the rebel candidates. "The board has a duty to make its recommendation on the basis of skills and expertise. It is likely that the board will be recommending candidates other than these three," he said.

Nationwide has a track record of defeating carpetbaggers and rogue board candidates. Mr Muir stood last year and was defeated by three votes to one. The society also saw off a full-scale demutualisation attempt by Michael Hardern, a carpbetbagger who became famous for wearing skirts.

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