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Public slams HBOS takeover

Nearly 50% of consumers polled by YouGov last week think that Lloyds TSB’s take-over of HBOS will be bad news for them.

The customers of both banks think the same way, with 45% saying the acquisition is a bad move.

YouGov polled over 3,900 Brit-ons about the takeover and six out of 10 say they are not confident that the buyout will resolve the crisis facing the financial markets.

They also doubt the abilities of the regulator, with only 17% ex-pressing confidence in the Financial Services Authority’s ability to oversee the industry.

And in the mortgage market, some are questioning whether the architect of HBOS, former chief executive Sir James Crosby, is the right man to sort out its collective woes, especially in light of the takeover.

He was charged by the government in April to conduct a review of the market and the results are ex-pected by the end of this month.

Sir James was appointed chief executive officer of Halifax in 1999 and oversaw its merger with Bank of Scotland to create HBOS. He stepped down as CEO in 2006.

HBOS was one of the UK’s larg-est securitisers operating in the US on Sir James’ watch, doing billions of pounds of business that some say led the UK into economic peril.

One previous HBOS employee says: “He will have to clear the air as to why he’s been given the task when HBOS has become the biggest victim of the credit crunch to date. There are serious questions about his impartiality, especially if his review says ’do nothing’.”

Alan Cleary, another former HBOS man and managing director of edeus, says: “Doing nothing is what got us here in the first place. I hope he takes decisive action.”

But Matthew Wyles, non-retail director of Nationwide, says he has faith in Sir James.

He says: “Criticisms of Sir James are misinformed baloney. He is one of the most inspirational financial leaders of his generation.”

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