Portman hints at merger

Ramesh Sharma

February 4, 2006

The lender made the comments during the announcement of its annual results this week. It revealed new mortgage lending during 2005 had increased by 18 per cent to £4.3 billion. Portman also announced its residential mortgage balance was up 16 per cent to £13.5 billion.

Robert Sharpe, Portman’s chief executive, said: “2005 has been another highly successful year against the background of a very challenging period for the UK mortgage lending sector. Our mutual advantage enables us to continue to deliver highly competitive products and achieve exceptional growth in both new and retained residential lending.”

However, despite promising to continue its conservative approach to asset risks, mergers could be a possibility in 2006.

The market looks primed for further mergers between building societies after the Leeds announced last month it was to join with Mercantile to create a lender worth £7 billion.

Portman’s intermediary lender The Mortgage Works, which saw profits jump 44 per cent to £25 million.

Portman is also planning to differentiate its core products from The Mortgage Works, so its mortgage branding will be split between its direct and introduced business.

The lender also said it was in a position to cope with any potential slowdown in the mortgage market during 2006. Sharpe added: “This year will bring its own challenges to the industry as a whole but I am confident the Portman group will continue to build on its position of success.”

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