Campaign update from Mikael

Dear all,

Thank you all for your continued support for the campaign to Give Nationwide Members a Say on the purchase of Virgin Money.

We now have:

  • over 3,000 signatories to the petition
  • 500+ requests for a SGM
  • over 200 active supporters on Facebook
  • and 1 co-ordinated campaign – including a new website!

Contents of this update:

  1. LATEST from Nationwide, our reply and today’s press release
  2. Nationwide AGM – do not agree to a quick vote!
  3. VIRGIN MONEY IN THE HIGH COURT – their shareholders will soon get to vote on the deal
  4. Campaign in the PRESS
  6. DIRECT ACTION you can take, while Nationwide deliberate

1/ LATEST from Nationwide, our reply and today’s press release

On Thursday afternoon, the Society secretary emailed me to say that the society considers the campaign’s request for a Special General Meeting to be “not valid”. The society has also refused to reply to a list of specific questions.

While this is disappointing, this was not unexpected, as Nationwide have shown their contempt for members throughout this process to date.

We’re continuing the fight for members’ voices to be heard and will be amplifying our activity to pressure Nationwide (and if necessary get HM Treasury, Regulators and Parliament to intervene) to push pause on this proposed deal until a member vote is scheduled.

You may wish to read the press release issued this morning by the campaign in response to the society’s “not valid” response to the SGM reqeusts submitted by members. We have also chosen to publish the correspondence in full – see appendices at the end of the PDF version of the press release that has been distributed to journalists.

We are taking this step of full disclosure given the considerable member and media interest in this situation.

In summary:

  • Nationwide has deemed members request for a SGM as “not valid” without clearly explaining why.
  • Nationwide refuses to share legal advice that they are relying on to circumvent the law which expects a member vote on the Virgin Money acquisition.
  • The campaign is publishing the full email correspondence between the campaign and Nationwide to be transparent with supporters (see PDF version of press release)
  • Nationwide refuses to answer clear questions – including whether there will be any retaliation or repercussions against members (e.g. being de-banked) who are raising valid concerns.
  • Despite this, the petition is now over 3,000 supporters – with over 1,000 joining in 24 hours.  
  • Many members are withdrawing their funds from the society because of Nationwide’s behaviour towards the membership.
  • This issue is broader than Nationwide members given the proposed takeover of The Co-operative Bank by the Coventry Building Society, which is also denying its members a vote on the deal.

2/ Nationwide AGM – date and agenda TBC

In parallel, we are also preparing for what can be achieved at the AGM. The date for the AGM is still yet to be announced, despite Nationwide beginning to send out “Make your vote count this June”  email notices to members.

PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON QUICK VOTE OPTION if you get an email about the AGM, as that way you reserve the right to consider and vote on all items on the agenda individually, once they are disclosed.

3/ Virgin Money shareholders expected to vote on the deal soon

We are awaiting publication of the decision from a High Court hearing yesterday regarding the Virgin Money side of the deal to determine whether Richard Branson / Virgin Group can vote their shares alongside other ordinary Virgin Money shareholders, given a £250 million additional exit fee under a licensing agreement, and a further £15 million per year in royalties. 

We expect the publication of the scheme document will follow imminently, allowing Virgin Money shareholders to consider the offer and so they can then vote on the proposed deal – while Nationwide members cannot!

4/ Campaign in the press

We continue to do our best (given our limited resources) to amplify our message and reach as many members as possible. There is a lot of bad advice and incorrect information circulating too. Our highlights from this week:


At present, we are a campaign operated by a handful of part-time volunteers. We would welcome support in the following areas from volunteers to join the campaign team – please contact the campaign by email if your can help

  • Public Relations – to help manage our message with the press and other key stakeholders
  • Journalists, copy writers, editors etc. – to help amplify our message, write and edit articles
  • Legal experts – given Nationwide’s refusal to abide by the spirit of the law and give members a vote, and the proposed Amendments underway to the Building Societies Act (1986)
  • Fund raising experts – to consider whether a campaign fund is needed and how to raise money
  • Website and graphic designers – to help grow, improve and maintain the website
  • Marketing /growth experts – to identify clever ways to extend the reach of the campaign
  • Social media / community managers – given our dedicated Facebook group
  • Project managers / administrators – there’s a lot going on and we want to stay co-ordinated as we grow

You will note that the campaign website has been significantly upgraded today. What was a link resource for the team and journalists has grown considerably to be much more supporter focused.

6/ Direct action you can take, while Nationwide deliberate

6 ways you can support the campaign that take just 5 minutes

Please consider taking action to emphasise and amplify our concerns regarding the proposed takeover of Virgin Money by the Nationwide. We have provided templates for to use/adapt – so it only take a few minutes of your time.

Finally, thank you everyone who has supported the campaign thus far. We knew from the outset that this was likely to a long and winding road – and so far that is exactly how it’s turned out. Read “About the campaign” on the website to if you’d like to catch up / understand what’s gone to date.

Mikael Armstrong
Campaign leader, Give Nationwide Members a Say on the purchase of Virgin Money

Campaign update from Mikael

3 thoughts on “Campaign update from Mikael

  1. Thank You for doing this. Over the years I have complained to my MP and the FCA.
    I recently contacted the FCA regarding a statement which I copied from their website September 2022 but I am now unable to find.
    “Mutual societies are owned and democratically controlled by their members and usually aim to benefit members or the community.”

    Nationwide Executive decision to use £2.9bn of owners money, without consent, to purchase a bank neither fits within the day to day running of the business nor was it a democratic decision.
    Perhaps an additional petition to the government to replace the Building Society’s Act 1986 to a clearer to the public format and prevent society members from actions of internal corruption. I’d be happy to have my details included as one of the 5 it takes to start the petition.

  2. Robert McLean, we have a new law. It is the Cooperatives, Mutuals, Friendly Societies Act 2023. It received the King’s Assent last year and it is the initiative of Mark Hendrick M.P. This new Act aims to protect the assets of mutual organisations- to prevent assets being used for the private benefit of members. Nationwide apparently spent £39 million last year, offering £200 switch bonuses to 163,000 customers of commercial banks. The Act could cover that type of action as well as the overpriced £2.9 billlion purchase of Virgin Money. Thanks to you, Mikael and his team for building our case. Best to you all, Sile.

  3. This partial content of my mail to the office of my MP.
    Further research reveals this. Please pass it on to Kevin Hollinrake.
    The Bill’s second reading took place on 19 January 2024.41 Members across the house were supportive of the Bill and the mutuals sector in general. Sponsoring the Bill, Julie Elliott MP (Lab) commented that the Bill would help building societies offer more mortgages to first-time buyers.42 Sir Oliver Heald MP (Con) suggested the Bill might reduce the desire from building societies to become banks.43 Natalie Elphicke MP (Con), former director of the Principality building society raised some substantive points on the Bill. On the proposal to allow building society members to virtually participate at AGMs Mrs Elphicke noted the value of face-to-face AGMs, saying: It will be important to ensure that a decision to proceed with virtual arrangements does not diminish effective participation, and that the decision is not made for other reasons, such as to cut costs or to hold an AGM somewhere more difficult for members to get to, on the basis that they can participate virtually. This particularly matters because, as the House has recognised, physical attendance has a special value.”

    I was denied entry in person to Swindon HQ 2023 AGM also not allowed to participate from the HQ premises via online. Instead, I reluctantly accepted the offer to participate from the Cheltenham branch however the ipad failed to connect so any of my “have your say” comments were denied. Having asked why the AGM was to be 100% online this is part of the reply from Nationwides RDS Ops & Controls Consultant
    “customer feedback shows that one of the reasons in-person attendance is declining is the time and cost of travelling to a physical venue. Overall, more people attended our last meeting online than in person over the last ten year and to add the costs of hosting a physical AGM are considerable and we consider an online only AGM a more responsible use of members’ money.”
    Clearly this does not agree with Natalie Elphicke MP and the Nationwide owners are about to be forces to accept the Oligarchical rules at 2024 AGM. I doubt very much if the customers gave feedback to deny face to face attendance in person personally I believe the more methods of participation the better but face to face is essential.
    The current board of Nationwide operate as an Oligarchy and as such Mutual status should not be awarded by the FCA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top