A&O and Addleshaws advise on UK’s biggest building society merger

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Addleshaw Goddard have scooped roles on the UK’s largest ever building society merger with total asset values of over £150bn and over 13m members.

The merger of Nationwide Building Society and smaller rival Portman Building Society is subject to approval by the Office of Fair Trading, Portman members and the Financial Services Authority, but is expected to be effective by September 2007.

Alistair Asher, head of A&O’s financial institutions group, commented: “This is the number one building society merging with the number three, and will make smaller building societies question what their meaning in life is.

“If you have a building society that is committed to being a building society but with these efficiencies of scale, it will be hard for them to compete.”

The merger is expected to expected to create the UK’s second largest mortgage lender and the second largest retail savings provider. The new society will take the Nationwide name.

A&O is advising longstanding client Nationwide, led by London-based corporate partners Richard Slynn and Asher. The firm has advised Nationwide on corporate transactions for more than ten years.

Addleshaws is advising Portman, led by London-based corporate partners Adam Bennett and Ian McIntosh.

Bennett has advised Portman for 15 years. His work for Portman has included advising the society in its £95m acquisition of Sun Bank in 2001.

Bennett has also advised in numerous other recent building society mergers, including Newcastle-based Universal’s merger with Newcastle Building Society, due to complete in December, and the merger of the Mercantile Building Society with Leeds Building Society, completed in August.