Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 20:26 UK

Summit held over takeover of HBOS

Lesley Sawyers, Alex Salmond and Iain Gray at the summit
Lesley Sawyers, Alex Salmond and Iain Gray were among those attending the summit

Politicians and business leaders have united in a bid to make sure Scotland gets the "best possible deal" in the wake of the proposed takeover of HBOS.

The meeting of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry reached a broad measure of agreement.

Alex Salmond, who hosted the summit, won the backing of those attending to demand that Lloyds TSB retain jobs and decision-making in Scotland.

Mr Salmond will hold a private meeting with Lloyds TSB bosses on Tuesday.

Lloyds TSB announced last week it had agreed a 12.2bn takeover after shares in Edinburgh-based HBOS plummeted.

There is a joint determination to get the best possible outcome given the situation we are in and we are resolved and determined to do that
Alex Salmond
First Minister

Mr Salmond said it was important that the "broad consensus of viewpoint" which emerged at Holyrood in the wake of the Lloyds TSB deal was given a chance to continue.

Speaking about the importance of HBOS to the Scottish economy, Mr Salmond said: "The loss of our oldest institution and independent bank is a serious matter that touches every corner of business and fabric of the country.

"Therefore it's only right that that broad range of opinion in the country, the trade unions, business organisations and chambers of commerce get the chance to have a canvass of opinion before we meet Lloyds TSB."

The first minister stressed that those at Monday's meeting, which was chaired by Lesley Sawers, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, had a "total unity of purpose" and said that could be a "strong card" to play in talks with Lloyds TSB.

"Everybody here around this table knows how serious the situation is, everybody at this meeting knows how serious the situation is.

"But there is a joint determination to get the best possible outcome given the situation we are in and we are resolved and determined to do that."

hbos sign at south gyle
Mr Salmond wants to safeguard the jobs of HBOS staff in Scotland

Mr Salmond previously claimed that Scotland's oldest bank had been forced into a merger through the activities of "short selling" speculators.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Cairns, who attended the HBOS summit, said: "From views expressed today, it is clear the implications of the takeover are enormous for all of Scotland.

"It is important now to maximise economic benefit and minimise damage, and we will work with Lloyds TSB and HBOS, the Scottish Government and all others present here today to do that.

"This has been portrayed as a deal that primarily affects the Edinburgh area, but any rationalisation of the merged company's branches and back office functions will have major job implications for Glasgow and the West."

He added that small and medium businesses would also be affected as they may be hit by more expensive business banking that could result from reduced competition.

'Protect jobs'

Labour leader Iain Gray left the UK party conference in Manchester immediately after his speech to participate in talks over the future of the bank.

He said: "It is crucial that we all work together to protect the jobs of employees of HBOS and ensure that Scotland's financial sector is protected as much as possible in these difficult times."

It emerged on Sunday that a group of top Scottish bankers was being asked to consider making a 6bn bid to save the Bank of Scotland.

Nationalist backbencher Alex Neil is inviting "banking elders" to an exploratory meeting to discuss the idea in Edinburgh this week.

However, HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby said it was "very unlikely" that any other bidder would appear on the horizon.

Mr Hornby admitted he did not know what role he would have in the company created by the Lloyds TSB takeover.

At his meeting with senior managers from Lloyds TSB, the first minister is expected to demand that significant executive functions remain in Scotland if the takeover goes ahead.

This could include the management of at least one of the divisions of the bank.

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Q&A: Lloyds TSB and HBOS
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17 Sep 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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