UCB confound speculation by light adverse move

Following the announcement of the merger of Nationwide and Portman Building Society, concerns were raised about the future of specialist arms The Mortgage Works, and UCB Homeloans.

Speaking about the proposed merger, Stuart Bernau, executive director at Nationwide, said: “We have been in talks with Portman for the past three months, and when we realised that there was common ground we acted on this unique opportunity. UCB Homeloans and The Mortgage Works have proved very useful for the two businesses, and we have plans to launch UCB Homeloans into the light adverse market within the coming year.”

He added: “What we do want is greater integration and to have a more co-ordinated model to work from when we officially merge.”

Andy Pratt, chief operations officer at Alexander Hall, argued that the newly formed entity would have to play catch-up to compete with others in the market. He said: “I think for the building societies concerned it makes great sense, and in terms of lending will make them one of the big players. However, so far neither Portman or Nationwide has really stuck their neck out and been progressive so they will be starting from behind. Neither have online systems at the moment and this will need to change if they are to have a big impact on the market.”

It is thought the merger will be confirmed in 2007, following FSA and Portman member agreement, with the name Nationwide Building Society being used upon completion.