Portman and Staffordshire to merge

Although details of the proposed merger are still to be finalised, the key points are:

• The combined society will be named Portman Building Society. However, Staffordshire Building Society will retain its well established brand in the region in which it is currently located and become known as “The Staffordshire”.

• The operations of both Portman and Staffordshire are geographically complementary which will significantly improve the distribution of both products and services to members of the enlarged group.

• Under the proposed merger, Robert Sharpe, chief executive of the Portman Building Society will become chief executive of the combined society. Robert Yates, chairman of Staffordshire and Bill Snaith, director and chief executive of Staffordshire will join the Portman Board. Bill Snaith will become managing director of “The Staffordshire”.

• A local board will be created, comprising the Board Members of Staffordshire at the date of the merger and the chief executive of Portman. Its primary function will be to monitor members’ issues and act as an advisor to the Board of Portman in relation to the business of the Staffordshire following the proposed merger.

• Whilst Staffordshire’s Wolverhampton Head Office will be retained as the operational administration centre to service Staffordshire’s members for at least three years, a small number of central functions will be transferred to the combined society’s Head Office which will be based in Bournemouth.

• Portman has undertaken that there will be no branch closures or compulsory redundancies at either society, as a result of the proposed merger for a minimum of three years. It will remain a mutual society.

• A merger bonus is expected to be paid to qualifying borrowers and savers of Staffordshire, details of which are to be announced. Each qualifying member of Staffordshire is expected to receive a minimum pre-tax merger bonus of £100.

Commenting on the proposed merger, Robert Sharpe, chief executive of the Portman Building Society said: “This is excellent news for the members of both societies - Portman members will see their society grow by some 15%, whilst the strong brand of Staffordshire in its operating region significantly strengthens our group’s presence in the Midlands. In addition, as the assets of the combined society will be greater than the current Portman, all of our members will benefit through the resulting economies of scale.”

Robert Sharpe continued ”This merger is the first of its kind – where two societies can benefit by joining forces whilst retaining their own branch networks and strong local brands. The combined society will be better able to manage the ongoing challenges of regulation, information technology and growing the business in a highly competitive market.”

It is expected that eligible savers and borrowers of Staffordshire will receive full particulars of the proposed merger in mid-August together with details of the merger bonus arrangement. Bonus payments to qualifying savers will be based on whichever is the lower of their aggregate account balances as at close of business on (i) 23 June 2003, and (ii) a future date which will be disclosed in the merger booklet. Payment of the merger bonus, which will be taxable income, is dependent on approval of the merger by Staffordshire members at a Special General Meeting which is anticipated to be held in late September.