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Co-op/Britannia tie-up awaits Treasury go-ahead for Butterfill bill

The legislation allowing a merger between Co-op Financial Services and Britannia Building Society is simply awaiting the publication of final legislation from Treasury ministers with political experts expecting this to be speeded up to allow the deal to go through.

The Co-op’s potential takeover of Britannia would see the super-mutual servicing six million customers and handling £70bn of combined assets.

The Butterfill Bill allowing mergers between building societies and other financial mutuals was passed last year. It was sponsored by Conservative MP Sir John Butterfill with Government backing. But the Treasury ministers have still to bring in the statutory instruments to allow the bill to be implemented. This process, says public affairs experts Cicero Consulting chief corporate counsel Iain Anderson, is likely to be brought forward to allow the deal to pass.

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.

Group chief executive Neville Richardson says: “As two like-minded, forward-thinking and financially strong mutuals, we’re talking with CFS about how we can work together to create an exciting proposition for our members.

“Both businesses have been pursuing successful strategies and don’t need to merge, but we recognise we could be even more successful by coming together and creating the UK’s most trusted financial services business.

“Talks are at an early stage and no decisions have been taken, so it’s too soon to talk about what changes might arise for our customers and employees. We can say that we remain committed to our Leek, Staffordshire base, our extensive branch network and our strong Britannia brand.”

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