Fears that losses at the Derbyshire and Cheshire building societies would spark a Northern Rock-style customer upheaval drove the rushed takeover of the mutual lenders by Nationwide, sources close to the deal said yesterday.

Nearly one million members and 1,450 staff at two of the UK's top eleven building societies, the Derbyshire and the Cheshire, were left reeling at the news that their institutions were being merged with the Nationwide Building Society after being hit by sour loans.

Nationwide chief executive Graham Beale has indicated that many of the 470 staff at the Derbyshire's head office in Duffield and 356 at the Cheshire's Macclesfield headquarters will lose their jobs.

Customers will not to be consulted about the future of their institutions and, unlike previous building society mergers, they will not be paid a windfall, nor are they to be given the chance to vote on the proposal.

Daily Telegraph, Independent