Lobbying review for Nationwide

The Nationwide, the largest remaining building society, is believed to be reviewing its public affairs account, which has been held by Beaumark for two years.

The Nationwide, the largest remaining building society, is believed

to be reviewing its public affairs account, which has been held by

Beaumark for two years.



Issues on Nationwide’s public affairs agenda at the moment are likely to

include its potential demutualisation. The society is in the process of

consulting its 4.9 million voting members on whether it should convert

to a bank - an operation which might result in windfall shares for

members - or remain mutualised, ahead of its AGM next week.



The society, under the leadership of chief executive Brian Davis, is

urging its members to vote in favour of the status quo. Beaumark has

been promoting Nationwide’s campaign to remain a mutual society among

opinion formers.



A spokesperson for Nationwide said: ’We have a very satisfactory

relationship with Beaumark but we review our contracts with all our

suppliers from time to time.’ Alongside Beaumark, Nationwide retains

Hogarth for its financial PR.



Building societies which have converted to banks so far include Alliance

and Leicester, Halifax and Woolwich. Several were criticised for

allowing ’carpetbaggers’ - speculative short-term investors - to access

huge windfalls and for distributing them unevenly - favouring male

account-holders in joint accounts for example.



Last April, the Labour MP for Wentworth, John Hesley introduced a

private member’s bill seeking to give all building society members equal

rights to windfall money.



Nationwide has 681 branches, employs 9,805 people full- time and

processed over 1.3 million transactions every working day during the

last financial year.



Last week, the society reported pre-tax profits for the 1997/1998

financial year of pounds 372.3 million, up 40.6 per cent on the previous

year. It expects its member benefits - gained through mortgage rates and

savings rates - to increase by at least pounds 100 million over the next

year, from pounds 200 million to over pounds 300 million. The society

now represents an 11.9 per cent share of the net new residential

mortgage market in the UK, up from its historic 7.7 per cent portion.



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