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Network Data in merger talks with small network

Network Data has revealed it is in exclusive talks to merge with another network.

Chief executive Richard Griffiths says he will announce in the next few weeks whether the talks have been successful.

Griffiths says: “The exclusive talks are with one of the UK’s smaller networks. These things usually take a short time, so if they have not developed in the next few weeks, they never will.”

Network Data, currently the biggest mortgage-only network, issued a profit warning in July ahead of its half-year results which will be published next month.

In April, it revealed a loss of 1.1m in 2007 compared with a profit of 300,000 in 2006 as a result of the delay in the launch of home information packs. It has halved staff numbers since last September to reduce costs.

As part of the recent profit warning, chairman Grenville Folwell said the current climate favours network mergers. He said: “We are currently evaluating acquisition opportunities that can be merged with our existing operation at very little additional cost. The group will take what actions are necessary to ensure survival and profitability.”

Network Data announced last week that it had put its Hip provider Hipstar into administration due to adverse market conditions.

Rival network Personal Touch Financial Services sales director Dev Malle says: “Right now, we must weigh up our natural growth against buying market share. Whatever happens, we will only buy the best firms and make sure not to take on any toxicity.”

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