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David Blake of the Woolwich
"The vast majority of people have got their shares"
 real 28k

Friday, 7 July, 2000, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Woolwich share sale
Woolwich website home page
Demutualised bank is pushing its new mobile services
The Woolwich bank is planning to sell about 72m worth of unclaimed windfall shares and dividends.

The former building society issued the shares when it converted to a public company three years ago.

Almost 40,000 customers with Woolwich accounts or mortgages who failed to take ownership of their shares now have until 10 October to claim them or they will be sold off.

The bank says it will advertise its intention to sell the 23 million unclaimed shares and that it will retain the proceeds from the sale, which can be reclaimed for a further nine years.

After that, the proceeds revert to the company but the Woolwich says any interest earned on the sale proceeds will be used to set up a charitable trust.

This is expected to be big enough to generate at least 1m a year.

Missing out

In some cases, it is believed the rightful owners of the shares failed to claim them because they had changed address without notifying the Woolwich and therefore did not receive details in the post.

Some others are believed to have ignored letters from the company, assuming them to be junk mail.

A Woolwich spokesman said : "In some cases we believe that shareholders thought the document telling them they were entitled to shares was their share certificate and have been ignoring subsequent correspondence."

Overall, it has been estimated that almost half a million people have yet to take possession of windfall entitlements worth about 500m from mortgage lenders who have demutualised.

Anyone believing they are entitled to unclaimed shares should contact the Woolwich customer service line: 020 8308 8900.

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See also:

04 Feb 00 | Business
A bank in your pocket
16 Feb 00 | Business
Woolwich looks to the future
03 Jul 00 | Business
HSBC slashes mortgage rate
27 Jun 00 | Business
Property boom cools
05 Jul 00 | Business
UK house prices dip
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