Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

New firm to oversee bank shares

Alistair Darling
Mr Darling said the government would not be a permanent investor in banks

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has given details of the new firm that will control the government's shareholdings in the country's banks.

The government is expected to end up with large stakes in RBS and the merged HBOS and Lloyds TSB.

The company will be called UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI) and its job will be to maximise value for taxpayers.

Its chair will be Philip Hampton, chairman of Sainsbury's and former finance director of Lloyds TSB.

The government's stakes in the banks are a result of its 37bn recapitalisation of the three banks involved.

UKFI will end up as one of the biggest bank holding companies in the entire world
Robert Peston, BBC business editor

The government also intends for UKFI to manage its holdings in Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock "in due course".

Public questions

The announcement came on the day that the three heads of the tripartite authority that is supposed to deal with banking problems faced questions sent by members of the public.

They were posed to Mr Darling, Bank of England governor Mervyn King, and Financial Services Authority (FSA) chairman, Lord Turner.

The three were appearing before the Treasury Select Committee.

The committee asked for questions about the banking crisis from members of the public, and received 5,000.

'Substantial problems'

Mr Darling was asked about why the merger between Lloyds TSB and HBOS still needed to go ahead.

Mervyn King, Alistair Darling and Lord Turner
Mr King, Mr Darling and Lord Turner faced questions sent in by the public

He described HBOS as having "very substantial problems" that it needs to resolve.

He stressed that while the shareholders would get the chance to consider any other bid for HBOS, there is not currently another offer on the table.

He also said that the calculation of additional capital that HBOS could receive was based on the assumption that the Lloyds TSB merger would go ahead, but it did not depend on it, and if the merger did not go ahead it would just be recalculated.

Commenting on the chances of Bradford and Bingley shareholders receiving significant amounts of compensation for their holdings, he said "the prospects are not good".

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