East Anglia: N&P members vote for merger

PLANS for the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society to merge with the Yorkshire Building Society have moved a significant step forward after N&P members gave it the green light by a huge majority.

Nearly 90% of N&P saving and borrowing members voted for the merger to create a new society with three million members, about �34billion in assets and a national network of 224 branches and 89 agency offices.

N&P members were urged by society chiefs to vote for the merger, with the warning that a “no” vote would see some of its branches close.

The society currently has 46 branches, including six in Suffolk, and the branch network will remain in place if the merger goes through as there is very little overlap between Yorkshire and N&P branches.

Yorkshire says it has committed to retaining the strong links N&P has with its local communities and to supporting charities and good causes in the eastern region through charitable giving, employee volunteering and affinity partnerships.

Gordon Horsfield, chairman of N&P, said: “The financial services market has changed fundamentally since the credit crunch began.

“If the needs of customers for a broad range of financial services are to be met, so as to provide a real mutual alternative to the banks, scale is more important to secure cost efficient operation and access to funding markets.

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“The challenge is to be able to deliver the benefits of scale whilst retaining the personal touch. In selecting the Yorkshire as a merger partner the board is confident that both societies share the same values.

“Furthermore, the enlarged society will have capital ratios which are amongst the strongest of any UK lender, bank or building society and thus a secure basis upon which to go forward.”

Iain Cornish, chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, said the merger would strengthen the long-term position of the enlarged society, making it better placed to compete and to deliver greater value to members as the merger benefits are realised.

He said: “When the merger completes later this year we will build on N&P’s strong brand in the east of England and the value it has delivered to its members. The merger also provides us with the opportunity to develop Yorkshire’s own products in areas where N&P has complementary capabilities and expertise, such as the current account market.”

The merger remains subject to confirmation by the Financial Services Authority , which is expected to complete on November 1.