UK bails out banks with £37bn

Britain bailed out three major banks with £37-billion on Monday as governments around Europe used taxpayers’ money to take control and boost confidence in the battered industry.

”It’s necessary because we are going through quite extraordinary circumstances the world over, and I’m determined to do everything we can to stabilise our banking system and make it stronger,” said Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling.

”And in return for it, of course, there will be restrictions on what happens in boardroom pay, and we’re also getting guarantees in relation to increased lending to businesses, as well as to mortgages, too.”

In Paris, a report by Dow Jones Newswires said the French government would create a €40-billion fund to take stakes in banks, though the French presidential office declined to comment on the report.

Under the United Kingdom plan, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will boost its capital by £20-billion, with the government taking £5-billion in preference shares and a share issue of £15-billion underwritten by the government.

HBOS and Lloyds TSB will also participate in the government scheme ”upon successful merger”, the Treasury said..

Lloyds, which as part of an earlier bank sector rescue plan had agreed to buy HBOS, said it had revised down the price it was paying, to 0,605 of a Lloyds share per HBOS share from 0,833 previously.

The UK Treasury laid out a series of conditions attached to the bailout, including a commitment by the banks to lend to homeowners and small business at 2007 levels, limits on executive pay, and government input on new board appointments.

Barclays said in its own statement it would boost its capital by more than £6,5-billion pounds but expected to do so without government help.

The British banks will try to sell shares to existing investors, but the government will buy any shares not taken up.

RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin became the highest-profile British bank executive to lose his job to the crisis. He will be replaced by Stephen Hester, chief executive of British Land and a former Abbey National banker.

The rescue plan could result in the government becoming the biggest shareholder, and even a majority investor, in RBS and a combined HBOS/Lloyds TSB.

Shares in HBOS fell by 8% to 114 pence in early trading. Barclays fell by 9% to 227 pence, and Lloyds TSB shares dropped by 12% to 212 pence, as government stakes will dilute the holdings of existing investors.

”Overall, we continue to believe that measures put in place by the UK government, as well as the huge amount of liquidity being pushed into the system by the BoE, are extremely useful for the sector,” said Credit Suisse analysts.

”However, equity holders remain at risk from higher impairment charges and equity dilution. Valuations do not take sufficient account of this yet, in our view.”

Germany and Italy are also expected to take measures to shore up their banks, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy predicted a series of announcements. According to media reports the German plan could be worth €400-million. — Reuters

Make sense of your world

Subscribe to Mail & Guardian at R10/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Public protector to investigate president

ANC MP Mervyn Dirks has asked Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate Ramaphosa’s ‘failure to report corruption’

NPA fails to deal with R7.8bn in Covid-19 corruption

Not ‘trial ready’: 386 Special Investigating Unit referrals lead to just one case in court so far

Cyril the Bullet Dodger

The presidential bobbing and weaving over ANC campaign funding is about to come to an end

Just three car models make up nearly 50% of SA...

‘Toyota Quantum and HiAce vehicles are on road on a semi-full-time basis and travel more kilometres vs other models and would, thus, be exposed to more on-road conflict situations,’ the report reads

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…