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&#39HBOS would axe Abbey brand and cut public choice&#39

An HBOS takeover of Abbey would see the Abbey brand disappearing and would be bad for consumer choice, says Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger.

He believes if HBOS were successful, it would mean an end to the 60-year-old Abbey brand. He points to the fact that HBOS has five brands with Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Intelligent Finance, Birmingham Midshires and The Mortgage Business, saying there is no logic in buying Abbey and maintaining two strong high-street brands.

Boulger says an HBOS takeover would reduce choice for customers and lead to branch closures.

He believes consolidation is inevitable in the mortgage market over the next five to 10 years because smaller lenders are finding regulation considerably more expensive than the FSA predicted.

He says: “I do not see the logic of HBOS having two strong brands in the high street, it would make no sense in the long term. When Halifax took over Leeds Perm-anent, that brand went and the most likely scenario would be for HBOS to drop the Abbey brand.”

Hamptons International Mortgages technical director Jonathan Cornell says: “Compared with the other banks and building societies, Abbey is the weakest brand in the market. When it got rid of the National name and spent lots of money on its rebrand, no one even noticed. HBOS does not really need any more brands so I would think the Abbey brand would go.”

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