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Britannia confirms talks with Co-operative

In light of forthcoming legislative changes that will make it easier for different types of mutuals – building societies, co-operatives and friendly societies – to work together, Britannia Building Society has confirmed it is in exploratory talks with Co-operative Financial Services (CFS). Britannia said the talks were at a very early stage and would cover a wide range of options as to how the two organisations could work together, including a possible future merger.

This would be enabled through the introduction of measures contained in the Building Societies (Funding) & Mutual Societies (Transfers) Act – known as the Butterfill bill, after its sponsor Sir John Butterfill MP. The legislation should be in place by the end of this year. A merger would also have to be approved in a vote by Britannia's members.

The organisations – two of the UK’s leading member-owned businesses – have similar values and share a mutual ethos, so there would be a strong cultural fit and it would represent a merger of strong equals.

Britannia – the country's second biggest building society – has an extensive branch network and a strong savings and mortgage franchise. CFS – part of the Co-operative Group, the world’s largest consumer co-op – has a strong personal and business banking franchise and life and general insurance expertise.

The combined and complementary strengths of the two businesses could offer customers a real ethical, customer-owned alternative to the plc market, with the combined organisations having around £70 billion of assets and six million customers.

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