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Yorkshire keen to boost lending after merger

Yorkshire Building Society chief executive Iain Cornish says no decision has been reached after the merger with Chelsea BS on whether to retain both broker brands, Accord Mortgages and Chelsea Intermediary Services.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Cornish says Yorkshire would not be looking at further mergers in the foreseeable future as it will be focused on the integration, leaving “no room on the agenda”.

Both society brands would remain in the branch net- work, although the combined society will be known as Yorkshire Building Society. It will have total assets of £35bn, 2.7 million members and 178 branches.

Chelsea posted a £26m loss for the first half after a £41m provision for mortgage fraud. It had previously revealed £55m exposure to the Icelandic banking collapse. Chief executive Richard Hornbrook and finance director Andrew Parsons quit in August.

Cornish will be chief executive of the merged society and Yorkshire chairman Ed Anderson will be chairman. Chelsea executive chairman Stuart Bernau will step down from his position.

Cornish says it is not yet clear how many job cuts will result, although there is little duplication in the branch networks of the two societies.

He says: “The intermediary brands require a little bit more thinking but, because of the financial strength of the combined society and strong funding position, we will be in a position to extend lending activities and that is obviously something we are very keen to do.”

Cornish would not say if the merger will be likely to cut back the broker support team.

John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says: “Both Yorkshire and Chelsea are doing relatively little lending at the moment, so in the relatively short term, it makes little difference.

“Chelsea’s standard variable rate is one of the highest in the market at the moment at 5.79 per cent, whereas Yorkshire’s is 4.99 per cent. What we have seen with previous takeovers is that the product range of the societies taken over has been brought into line very quickly with the product range of the society taking over. Certainly on the mortgage front, I think Chelsea borrowers will actu- ally find they are better off. “

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