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Moneyfacts retreats in row over societies’ merger

Moneyfacts has been forced into an embarrassing apology to Portman Building Society after criticising the documentation for its proposed merger with Nationwide.

It made the apology after Nationwide and Portman hit back at Moneyfacts’ allegations that the merger documentation was vague when detailing payments to outgoing executives, particularly Portman chief executive Robert Sharpe.

Nationwide head of external affairs Alan Oliver says: “The FSA has given Portman Building Society formal approval of the information contained in its merger booklet.

“If the FSA had felt there was insufficient disclosure of the terms relating to Robert Sharpe, they would have raised this. His redundancy payment and payment for doing his job are being made in accordance with his contractual entitlement.”

Portman associate director James Wright says: “We are disappointed that Moneyfacts is using such inflammatory language, presumably as a way of getting publicity.”

Moneyfacts also accused the two building societies, which are proposing to join forces in September this year, of failing Portman members, with many set to receive only a 200 windfall.

It said: “There has been extensive comment calling on the Portman board to provide the information. This reflects a concern that the biggest winners of building society takeovers may be the outgoing executives rather than the members. If that is true, it isn’t what most people thought mutuality was supposed to be about.”

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