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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.”


Judging the turn

The Resolution Argonaut European alpha fund managed by Barry Norris has an outstanding record. Norris started his career with Baillie Gifford and spent some time with Neptune where he ran the European opportunities fund. He then decided to start Argonaut Capital Partners in 2005 with Oliver Russ.

A few points in favour of retirement alternatives

I read with interest Harry Katz’s recent article on variable annuities or third-way products. He presents a cogent argument in a number of areas but I feel that it only right to put the other side of the argument to ensure a fair balance.

Which way does the wind blow?

It became one of the biggest investment themes of 2007 but will climate change funds lose their appeal as the economic climate gets more hostile?

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(Another) downhill stroll — retirement planning

A report published this morning by the CIPD (CIPD Employee Outlook March 2015) provides yet more interesting data to the changing landscape of retirement planning. It should be remembered that we are in a period of genuine flux here given that the default retirement age was scrapped three years ago, and new pension freedoms come online in April. Both of these alterations will have a huge impact on how employees plan for their retirement.


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