The Spanish invasion was successful as Banco Santander acquired Abbey for 8.7bn, with brokers hoping the move could see the number two lender raise its game to rival HBOS. Meanwhile, GMAC-RFC rose in the CML’s lending ranks but TMB blocked new lending, returning in September. Purely Mortgages, run by Mark Chilton, targeted the phone-based advice market in July. Charcol finally broke free from Bradford & Bingley’s shackles in December for a substantially smaller sum than originally purchased. Neutrals breathed a sigh of relief that the saga was over. Rivals were probably less happy. The market saw Thinc a multi-distribution platform make a huge impact while ex-Group 300 members grumbled over pipeline fees. First Active returned in June with a charming thumbs-up campaign. Sun Bank realised it was not a bank and renamed itself The Mortgage Works. Alexander Hall, having marketed itself as offering free independent advice, found it was contravening FSA regulations and now clearly promotes a fee option. While you are shopping for your turkey, remember that Tesco supermarket has been offering mortgages since November.