[DEBATE] : Subprime, bank run & nationalisation
Riaz K Tayob
riazt at iafrica.com
Mon Feb 18 09:39:00 GMT 2008
Crisis measures for Northern Rock
Alistair Darling The chancellor said the move was in the public interest
Darling statement Emergency legislation is to be introduced to temporarily nationalise the stricken Northern Rock bank.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said he made the decision because two private takeover offers did not offer the taxpayer "sufficient value for money".
Trading in Northern Rock shares has been suspended.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the nationalisation plans were "catastrophic," and that they would be opposed by the Conservatives.
"The trouble with nationalisation, as we're about to discover, [is that] getting into nationalisation is a lot easier than getting out - as those of us who have read about the 1970s can remember," Mr Osborne said.
Robert Peston It is the biggest decision made yet by this Prime Minister Robert Peston, BBC Business Editor
Read Robert's blog
But the chancellor has been defending his move, saying Northern Rock will eventually be moved back into the private sector.
"We had independent advisers look at this, and they all pointed in one direction: the best thing to do was to take the bank into a period of temporary public ownership before ultimately trying to return it to the private sector," he told the BBC.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown will hold a news conference on the crisis at 1100 GMT.
Under nationalisation rules, Northern Rock's shareholders will be offered compensation for their holding at a level set by a government-appointed panel.
I wouldn't trust this government to run a whelk stall Denis V, Kent
Is Darling still in control? In quotes: Reaction to move
The calculation will be based on the bank's value without government guarantees.
However, analysts say under those conditions shareholder's will receive very little.
It seems likely that shareholder groups will take legal action over the government's move.
Roger Lawson, chairman of the Northern Rock Shareholders' Action Group said he thought there were "good grounds" for legal action.
"We've already considered it and obviously SRM - who are one of the major institutional shareholders - have effectively promised legal action already if nationalisation went ahead," Mr Lawson said.
A consortium led by the Virgin group had put forward a rescue proposal for the beleaguered bank, and a plan from management had also been considered.
But ministers decided that nationalisation was the best option.
The bank will be run at arm's length and on a commercial basis Alistair Darling
Q&A: The nationalisation
Ron Sandler, nominated by the government to run Northern Rock, said savers' deposits would be secure.
UK taxpayers are now subsidising the bank in loans and guarantees to other lenders to the tune of about £55bn.
Under the new strategy this will jump to £110bn, a cost of £3,500 per taxpayer.
Explaining the government's decision, Mr Darling said it was better for the government to hold onto Northern Rock until market conditions improve and its value increases.
He emphasised that "the long-term ownership of this bank must lie in the private sector".
The Treasury had already recruited Mr Sandler, the former boss of the Lloyd's of London insurance market, to lead Northern Rock, in case it was nationalised.
Mr Sandler is widely regarded as having restored confidence in Lloyd's after its years in financial disarray.
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It's easy to knock the government but they didn't cause this problem
Simon, London Send us your comments
He has said Northern Rock must be reduced to a sustainable size, and it is thought there will be 1,000s of job cuts under his stewardship.
Mr Sandler said the changes would have no impact on the guarantees made to lenders, or the government-backed support for savers' deposits.
"It is business as usual," he said.
Northern Rock got itself into financial difficulties last year because its business model left it ill-prepared for the global credit crunch.
It was forced to ask the Bank of England for emergency funding, and triggered the first run on a British bank in more than a century.
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