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Downgrade sees N&P put Astra on ice

Norwich & Peterborough’s Astra Mortgages has become the first victim of the Moody’s building societies’ downgrade.

The society’s intermediary arm has been mothballed for the foreseeable future, which it says is a direct result of Moody’s downgrading N&P in April. The rating agency reduced the society to a D grade, which N&P says has made it a lot harder to access affordable wholesale money.

Astra chairman David Jervis says: “There was a shock when we were downgraded. Plans have had to be pulled back and we have had to go back to a more traditional, branch-based model.

“This is all very frustrating. Astra was a sensible lender and should be flourishing right now but instead it has had to be mothballed. We intend to bring it back but it is all just down to funding.”

Moody’s also downgraded Britannia, Yorkshire, Nationwide, West Bromwich, Principality, Newcastle, Skipton, Coventry and Chelsea.

Principality chief operating officer Graham Yorston says that Nemo, one of the last remaining secured loan lenders, is still a big part of the soc- iety’s plans. “We have had to restructure our funding over the last year and it has been a juggling act, but we are now more than 90 per cent funded by our retail deposits,” he says.

Yorkshire Building Society is also confident that its business will not be affected by the downgrade and a spokeswoman says: “The downgrade was annoying but it has not affected our business. Accord is definitely part of our future, its mortgages are core to our proposition.”

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