Nationwide has played down rumours that it is eyeing other lenders in a further consolidation of the building societies sector.
The mutual, which is the UK’s biggest building society, was reported to have expressed an interest in acquiring rivals the West Bromwich and Staffordshire-based Britannia.
Britannia is the UK’s second biggest building society with assets worth £36.83 billion at the end of last year, while the West Bromwich is the seventh largest, worth £9.6 billion.
Reports claimed that while Nationwide was eyeing the two institutions, sources were uncertain whether it would make a move until it had the chance to look at their books.
Nationwide agreed to merge with the Derbyshire and Cheshire Building Societies last month after the pair racked up losses in the first half of the year and faced increased uncertainty due to turmoil in lending markets.
But a spokeswoman for the group denied it was looking at Britannia and West Bromwich, saying: “There is no substance to this story.”
Consolidation in the building societies sector is expected to increase in the coming year due to the current economic turmoil, with many smaller societies thought to be vulnerable.
Earlier this year, Chelsea Building Society merged with the Catholic Building Society, which was one of the country’s smallest building societies.
Net lending by the sector was negative for the third month in a row during August, as mortgage customers repaid more than they borrowed.
But mutuals have benefited from strong savings in flows since the problems at Northern Rock last year, with consumers seeing them as a safer home for their money.
The sector has a reputation for “looking after its own”, and in the past when mutuals have run into problems, larger building societies have stepped in to help.