Bristol & West

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Bristol & West plc
Type Division of Bank of Ireland
Industry Finance
Headquarters Bristol, England, UK
Products Mortgages
Owners Bank of Ireland
Website www.bristol-west.co.uk

Bristol & West (B&W) was a former building society in the United Kingdom, one of the first to be demutualised to become a commercial bank. It became a division of the Bank of Ireland in 1997. Bristol & West had its headquarters in Bristol, England. The bank's main activity was mortgage lending for residential and commercial customers, although in 2009 its business was transferred to Bank of Ireland and it became a shell company and stopped accepting new customers.[1] The Bristol & West name has since been replaced by the Bank of Ireland brand.

History[edit]

The Building society was founded in 1850 as the Bristol, West of England and South Wales Permanent Building Society. It offered mortgages in the Bristol and the south west of England area and became a well known institution in the region.

By 1996 Bristol & West was the 9th largest building society in the United Kingdom, at a time when the UK government relaxed rules on funding for building societies which led a number of Building Societies demutualise and convert into banks.

In 1997 Bristol & West demutualised and was sold to Bank of Ireland becoming a division of the bank but maintaining its operations and branch network under the Bristol & West brand.[2]

The UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) fined the Bristol & West subsidiary Chase de Vere Financial Solutions for the "approval and issue of a misleading direct offer promotion" in December 2003.[3]

In 2005, Bristol & West sold its savings and investment business to the Britannia Building Society. The deal also included Bristol & West's branch network, as well as its direct savings business for an estimated £80 million.

Bank of Ireland continued to offer mortgages to intermediaries, packagers and direct customers through the Bristol & West brand at its main processing centres in Bristol and Solihull; this meant the closure of a number of smaller mortgage processing centres throughout the country. In 2007 the estimated profit from this mortgage venture was £52 million.

Following the financial crisis of 2007–08 the bank suffering large losses and as a result the Bank of Ireland took the decision to limit mortgage lending.

On 8 January 2009 Bank of Ireland announced to the stock market that it would close its Solihull and Reading processing centres (the Reading Centre processed Bank of Ireland Mortgages only) and as of 9 January 2009, Bristol & West Mortgages would cease accepting new customers.[4] Bank of Ireland now only offer residential mortgages in the U.K. through the Post Office brand.

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