Letter: Who profits?

MAY I refer to an article on the Halifax-Leeds merger by Richard Thompson which appears to be promoting the ethos of personal gain above all else ("A gamble at the society casino", Business, 16 April).

The essence of the building society movement is mutuality - the society merely acting as arranger and stakeholder between lenders and borrowers. The societies are owned and controlled by the members and there is no scope for profit to third parties. This simplified structure is the basis on which the movement grew and prospered; other, often expensive, services which have been added are largely irrelevant.

In the case of the proposed Halifax-Leeds merger both are soundly based and there is no justification for the merger except as a preliminary to conversion to public company status. That would merely create another large, impersonal, financial institution more concerned with dividends to shareholders than services to members.

I would therefore urge all members of both societies to vote against the merger as not being in their best long-term interests.

C W Goodings