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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 12:31 GMT
IF joins Egg, Smile, Cahoot

Halifax shop logo Halifax is seeking to speed its non-mortgage growth


Halifax has become the latest bricks and mortar bank to select a quirky name for its internet bank.

The trend follows the success of Prudential's Egg online bank.

Others include the Co-op Bank's Smile brand and Abbey National's announcement on Thursday that its internet spin off would be named Cahoot.

Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage bank said the name IF stands for Intelligent Finance.

During its development the online bank has gone under the working name Greenfield.co.uk.

Mobile phone access

Halifax said the online bank will offer current accounts, savings, mortgages, credit cards and loans when it is launched this summer.

It will be accessible via telephone, financial intermediaries or internet-enabled mobile phones.

Chief executive Jim Spowart, who set up Standard Life Bank, aims to recruit more than 500,000 new customers in the first 12 months of trading and more than two million by the end of 2004.

"Although these may seem ambitious targets, we know we can achieve them," he said in a statement.

IF forms part of Halifax's hi-tech plans, which include an internet insurance business, announced on Thursday, plus Halifax Online and Direct launched earlier this year.

Diversifying targets

Halifax chief executive James Crosby said the group intended the new online bank to make money in three years.

The internet details were unveiled as it reported pre-tax profits before exceptional items of 1.78bn in 1999, up 2.8% on the previous year.

The former building society said last year's pre-tax profits were hit by increased provisions for bad debts and by losses on the sale or closure of a third of its estate agency branches.

These exceptional - or one-off - items led to pre-tax profit for the year dropping 6% to 1.6bn.

Halifax said 35% of group profits now came from diversified businesses, up from 28% the previous year.

Five hundred jobs

It said it had brought forward its target of 50% of profits from diversified businesses by five years to 2002.

Its shares, which have fallen over the past few months in line with most banking stocks, had surged 21.4% to 552p following the esure internet insurance venture announcement on Thursday. They rose a further 69p to 621p on Friday morning.

Esure.com will provide cover online to private motorists and homeowners in the UK.

The group said it is to invest 150m in esure and expects that the company will employ up to 500 people after three years.

The service is due to start trading early in 2001.

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See also:
17 Feb 00 |  Business
Halifax to offer online insurance
18 Feb 99 |  The Company File
Windfall for Halifax shareholders
14 Apr 99 |  The Company File
Halifax axes jobs

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