Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Raising the Self Interest Rate

Events aren't half moving fast these days. The LTSB / HBOS merger, whose approval looked nothing more than a formality barely a few days ago, is now starting to creek under scrutiny.

First we have the George and Peter letter, now being backed up by an 'online petition' to gather support amongst HBOS shareholders. Then the Bank of China seem to be interested in funding an alternative bid. And to top it all the Financial Times editorial ridicules the merger plans as hasty and against the public interest.

This final phrase is key, for it was the venerable Lord Mandelson who decided to wave aside regulatory concerns because the merger was in the public interest. Perhaps the Business Secretary would like to explain how the loss of thousands of jobs and the reduction in choice for savers and borrowers alike can possibly be in the public interest.

May I venture an explanation? For 'public' read 'HBOS board members, LTSB board members and Institutional Investors'. HBOS board members get a nice fat pay off as a reward for their incompetence, LTSB board members move a step closer to earning juicy bonuses as a result of growing their business dramatically and Institutional Investors will see their HBOS shares bought for an inflated price (versus the market value) and their LTSB shares rocket in value as the efficiency programme strips cost out of the business.

Who loses out of this? HBOS employees (especially), potential HBOS savers and potential HBOS borrowers. Or let's use a useful collective noun for these people - taxpayers. That's right folks - Brown, Darling and Mandelson think it is right to use the taxes that HBOS employees are paying them to force them out of a job. It is simply disgraceful.

If these guys are serious about entering an age of responsibility it's about time they acted in the public interest on this matter rather than protecting the same old vested interests their complacency has been serving over the last decade.

I urge anyone who has any influence whatever to use it to save HBOS.

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