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Societies moving to deter carpetbaggers

Britannia and Yorkshire building societies are slashing minimum balances for new sav ings accounts to below pre-carpetbagger levels.

Both societies are lowering the minimum balance for new instant-access accounts from £2,000 to £100.

As a safeguard against carpetbaggers, the two mutual building societies are demanding that new members sign over any future windfall shares to the societies&#39 charitable trusts.

If either society converts within the next five years, new savers will give up their windfall.

Britannia chief executive John Heaps says: "We are not interested in opening acc ounts for people who are looking for a one-off windfall, which would only make our savings and mortgage rates less competitive over the long term.

"We think the five-year rule will deter short-term spec ulators from disrupting our business and allow us to concentrate on delivering competitive services to people who genuinely want to belong to a mutual society."

Both Britannia and Yorkshire deny their moves are a precaution against new speculation about conversions.

Yorkshire chief executive David Anderson says: "Our philosophy is simple. We use the financial advantages we have as a mutual to offer the most attractive rates possible to our members. That allows us to grow the society more quickly than its costs, making us more efficient."

Britannia&#39s charitable trust is the Britannia Building Society Foundation while Yorkshire&#39s is the Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation.

Minimum opening balance for Britannia&#39s Higher Saver, Capital Trust and Capital Trust 30 accounts will be reduced to £1,000 from £5,000. It is also reopening its Regular Saver Account, its Flexible Savings Account and Flexi-Tessa.

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