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About Abbey National
Abbey, officially Abbey National plc, is a United Kingdom-based bank and former building society that has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Grupo Santander of Spain since 2004. Abbey will be rebranded as Santander by the end of 2010 in line with the group's other UK subsidiaries, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley. Prior to the takeover, it was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
The Abbey Road & St John's Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society was founded in 1874, based in a Baptist church on Abbey Road in Kilburn. The society became the Abbey National Building Society following the merger of the Abbey Road Building Society with the National Building Society in 1944. In 1932 the society moved into new headquarters, Abbey House, at 219 to 229 Baker Street, London, a site occupied until 2002. The site was thought to include 221B Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Abbey National gained a reputation for innovation and, sometimes disruptive, change. It was an early user of computer systems and in the late 1970s, all branches became on-line to a real-time system that maintained customer accounts. Under Chief General Manager Clive Thornton, new types of savings accounts were introduced as well as a cheque account. The administration of the cheque account was restricted by building society rules and the need to find a partner that could clear Abbey's cheques (The Co-operative Bank). Later, Abbey became a full member of the BACS and APACS. Thornton also acted to break the building societies' interest rate cartel.
In 1989 the Abbey National Building Society demutualised and became a public limited company — Abbey National plc. It was the first of the UK building societies to demutualise, doing so on 12 July. Abbey floated on the London Stock Exchange at £1.30 per share, resulting in an unusually large number of small shareholders — approximately 1.8 million initially. The demutualisation process was marred by the discovery of a large number of undelivered share certificates awaiting destruction at a contractor's premises. Abbey National shares peaked at more than £14 in 2000, before the stock market began a long decline.
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*Figures are indications of savings only and based on a £100,000 life insurance policy for a female aged 30, non smoker and without a pre-existing medical condition. The rate is based on a 25 year level term policy, sourced on a guaranteed basis.