Page last updated at 00:35 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

RBS shareholders vote on bail-out

Royal Bank of Scotland branch
RBS has been hit hard by the financial crisis

Shareholders of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will vote later on Thursday on whether to accept a 20bn ($29.9bn) government bail-out.

The government is expected to gain up to 60% of RBS, if the deal goes ahead.

Chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin is being replaced by Stephen Hester who is expected to begin the process of shedding up to 3,000 staff.

Earlier this month, RBS announced it expected to reveal its first full-year loss in its almost 300-year history.

At their meeting in Edinburgh, shareholders are expected to approve the creation of millions of shares which it is likely only the government will be willing to buy.

Under the terms of the 20bn capital raising, RBS plans to raise up to 15bn from investors by selling shares at 65.5 pence each. If the shares are not taken up, the government will acquire them.

The government will also directly buy preference shares in the bank - worth a total of 5bn.

Sub-prime exposure

On Wednesday, Lloyds TSB shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking over HBOS as well as accepting government bail-out money.

They also approved plans to raise 5.5bn by issuing new shares and special preference shares.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Alistair Darling said on 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.

Critics say that the RBS's problem stem from the fact that it over-reached itself.

It had too much exposure to the sub-prime market in the United States and it overpaid for the giant Dutch bank ABN Amro at the height of the boom.

Sub-prime loans are those to people with poor credit records. An RBS consortium paid 71bn euros ($91bn; 61bn) for ABN Amro in October 2007.



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