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Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 19:32 GMT

Business: The Company File

Profits soar at Bradford & Bingley

Bradford & Bingley hopes to sweep the floor with the carpetbaggers

Bradford & Bingley Building Society has given itself a vital weapon in its battle to remain independent by announcing a sharp rise in profits.

Profits at the UK's second largest building society jumped by more than a third to £128.5m in 1998.

The rise in earnings could not have come at a better time for B&B. The group faces a crucial vote on 24 April which will determine its future. Rebel members, lead by Stephen Major, are seeking a windfall and are trying to force the building society to convert into a bank and float on the stock exchange.

Chief executive Christopher Rodrigues said: "These results again show the continued strength and benefits of our mutual strategy.

"Our excellent growth shows people continue to be attracted by the highly competitive range of services we offer."

Better rates

B&B said it had returned £110m to members last year through lower mortgage rates and more competitive savings rates.

The society also increased its net residential mortgage lending by 71%, £1.2bn.

B&B bought the Black Horse Agency Group from Lloyds TSB for £58m in March last year, as it expanded into the residential property market.

The society recently announced plans to replace the "Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley" logo with a new multi-coloured bowler hat logo, at a cost of £9.4m.

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