Bradford & Bingley demutualises

Members in April voted for the group to demutualise, and jettison the company’s 149-year history as a society with its London Stock Exchange listing.

Former Sainsbury’s group FD Rosemary Thorne, who yesterday celebrated her first anniversary as the society’s group finance and IT director, has played a major role in the change of status along with fellow accountant directors, including chairman Lindsay Mackinlay.

This Friday members were due to decide whether to sell or keep their distribution of 250 shares – without knowing their final price, which was due just before the float over the next couple of days. Official estimates placed the price between 259p-326p per share spelling windfalls of between £647 and £815.

Thorne and the board could face a difficult period in a stormy quoted banking sector. Former building societies, such as Alliance & Leicester and Halifax, have seen share prices dip, while Abbey National, the first society to convert, is looking to merge with the Bank of Scotland.

And with a £2bn market capitalisation, B&B will be too small to join the FTSE100 with its automatic tracker funds. Although the society has repositioned as a provider of independent financial advice, and acquired the leading IFA John Charcol earlier this year, traditional mortgage lending still accounts for about 80% of group profits.

Thorne, 48, a member of the financial reporting council and review panel, and fellow management accountant Mackinlay sit on the board with chartered accountant directors Nicholas Cosh, former FD of JIB group, and Mark Smith, a former vice-chairman of SG Warburg.


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