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Barclays and Woolwich in talks

Barclays is looking to take over the Woolwich and more than double its share of the mortgage market to roughly 9 per cent.

Merger talks, which would make Woolwich the mortgage arm of Barclays, are at an early stage.

The announcement follows the Government’s recent green light for banking mergers, which ignored regulator Don Cruickshank’s warning that they would lead to less competition and choice.

If the takeover is successful it could lead to further consolidation in the mortgage banking sector, with banks such as Lloyds TSB anxious to increase their share of the market.

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