Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Lloyds TSB approves HBOS takeover

Shareholders give their views on the deal

Lloyds TSB shareholders have voted in favour of taking over HBOS as well as taking government bail-out money.

Members of the Unite union had demonstrated outside the venue in Glasgow against the job losses that are likely to result from the deal.

HBOS shareholders will vote on the deal to create a banking giant with 145,000 staff and 3,000 branches next month.

On Tuesday, the chancellor warned that shareholders could receive much less cash if the deal falls through.

Special case

Lloyds TSB shareholders voted 95.98% in favour of the takeover. They also approved plans to raise 5.5bn by issuing new shares and special preference shares.

"This is an overwhelming endorsement for the logic of this transaction," said Lloyds TSB chairman Sir Victor Blank.

The government has allowed the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB to bypass normal competition rules.

When the deal was originally announced in September, the government backed the deal using a special national interest clause on the grounds that a collapse of HBOS would have had a disastrous impact on the UK.

Shareholder risk

Sir Peter Burt, formerly of the Bank of Scotland, and Sir George Mathewson, ex-head of the Royal Bank of Scotland have aid HBOS could remain independent if it were to take the government's bail-out money without merging with Lloyds TSB.

Earlier this month the two said that they should lead HBOS and that they intended to canvas shareholders.

When Lloyds TSB reduces the headcount of the combined banks by 20,000 or more, some members of the government will not feel totally euphoric in getting what they wished for
Robert Peston, BBC business editor

But Chancellor Alistair Darling said on Tuesday that attempts by any of the banks to renegotiate the 37bn bail-out of the banking sector could prove costly for shareholders.

He said that access to the government deal was not "automatic" and that any bank seeking a new package risked getting a far lower share price than when the offer was first made.

As a result, the two senior bankers will walk away from the furore in the next few days, according to BBC business editor Robert Peston.

The chancellor's statement was criticised by Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

"At a time of economic recession it's difficult to see why the Labour government wants to throw people out of work," he told the BBC.

"That's effectively what the chancellor did last night by issuing a statement, which said that HBOS might not be eligible for the bank bail-out."

HBOS shares have continued to fall since the bail-out was negotiated, so the government is threatening that if it had to be renegotiated it would be based on the current share price.

Sustainable business

The chancellor also signalled that there was "no automatic right of access to the recapitalisation scheme".

"The institution must have a sustainable business model and delivery plan," he said.

Mr Darling was accused by an SNP MSP of seeking to scupper plans that could keep HBOS independent.

Alex Neil said: "Once again the Treasury seems to be doing everything it can to inject doubt and frustrate alternate plans that could keep HBOS independent and safeguard competition and tens of thousands of jobs."

But HBOS chairman Dennis Stevenson warned last week that the bank may have to be nationalised if the takeover falls through.

Unite general secretary Derek Simpson said the protesters outside the meeting had been demanding that, "Lloyds TSB shareholders do not merely consider the financial rewards of a takeover of HBOS, but the wider social and employment implications".

Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders will also vote on Thursday on plans to raise 20bn of capital.

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