pounds 50m to fix computers, says Abbey

The "millennium issue" could cost Abbey National more than pounds 50m in adapting the group's computers and other technical systems, Ian Harley, finance director and the executive director in charge of information technology for the group, told the annual general meeting yesterday. "It could well cost more than that if put together with the issue of converting for the euro."

Lord Tugendhat, chairman, said he was very much in favour of Britain playing a part in a single European currency: "The volatility of sterling is much greater than other European currencies."

Abbey National's share of the increase in UK new mortgage business has improved since the last quarter of 1996 but remains below its 14.7 per cent share of the market.

Lord Tugendhat said money continued to be tied up in the converting building societies, and Abbey's share of retail savings flows had been well below stock levels, but the underlying performance was better than last year.

He said Abbey National was now selling general insurance to all customers rather than just mortgage customers.