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British bank to axe 370 jobs

LONDON, September 25 – British bank Bradford & Bingley said Thursday it was slashing 370 jobs, mainly at its mortgage processing centre near London, after being hit by a housing downturn and weakness in the wider economy.

The bank said that the move would save 15 million pounds (18.9 million euros, 27.8 million dollars) a year following one-off costs of 14 million pounds.

"Due to the wider economic environment and the significantly reduced volume of new mortgage applications, the company is taking action to realign its cost base in three areas," Bradford & Bingley said in a statement.

It said it would shut its mortgage processing centre in Borehamwood, north of London, significantly reduce its sales staff and axe all remaining mortgage advisors based at its branches.

"As a result of the closure of (the) Borehamwood centre, 300 staff located there will be made redundant. It is expected that the site will close in the first quarter of 2009," it said.

"The company has no plans to reduce the number of branches which are at the heart of the business and will be expanding the (loan) arrears function by around 70 positions to increase collections capacity."

A newspaper report last weekend said that Britain\’s Financial Services Authority was in secret negotiations to facilitate the acquisition of Bradford & Bingley.

The Sunday Telegraph said the regulator was talking to Spanish banking group Santander, Dutch group ING and National Australia Bank to gauge interest in the mortgage lender.

Bradford & Bingley last month revealed net losses of 17.2 million pounds (21.8 million euros, 31.5 million dollars) for the first half of 2008, attributing them to "turbulence in the banking and housing sectors."

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It also said in August that its shareholders had agreed to buy just under 28 percent of a new share issue aimed at raising 400 million pounds.

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