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Scottish MP calls on financial ‘elders’ to save Bank of Scotland

Scottish National Party MP Alex Neil is thought to be issuing an invitation to Scottish financial heavy weights in a £6bn effort to buy Bank of Scotland and save jobs on the lender’s home soil.

The group is set to meet later this week and a letter of invitation has been sent out to a number of industry grandees.

They include Sir George Mathewson, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Angus Grossart, one of the leading lights of Scottish finance and Sir Peter Burt, the former chief executive of Bank of Scotland and backer of Enterprise.

Gavin Masterton, the former managing director of BoS, George Mitchell, another former managing director of BoS, and Jim Spowart, creator of Intelligent Finance and a founder of Standard Life Bank are also reported to have been targeted.

It is thought the men have the connections to fund a bid for the bank that could scoop it out from under Lloyds TSB and the existing English HBOS counterparts.

Neil, a member of the Scottish parliament’s finance committee and former economic consultant, says: “We should try and explore every avenue. If we can muster this group it would be a very strong and diverse body of senior banking knowledge.

“If successful, they could be the custodians of the Bank of Scotland. It would be another chapter in the bank’s incredible history.”

He is also calling for an urgent and wide ranging enquiry into the take over of HBOS by Lloyds TSB.

Neil is in agreement with Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life Investments, who believes rules may have been broken with regard to the acquisition.

Skeoch says HBOS and Lloyds TSB failed to follow takeover protocol last week when they did not formally announce the fact that takeover talks were being held.

He says an announcement could have prevented shares in HBOS plummeting. He also says that had the Special Liquidity Scheme been extended earlier in the week than the entire debacle could have been avoided.

Neil says: “The comments from Skeoch highlight serious and fundamental flaws and rule breaches in the takeover process.

“If his allegations are correct it took some four hours for news of the merger talks to reach the London Stock Exchange and the Financial Services Authority failed miserably to help HBoS when it quite clearly could have been saved.”

Neil suspects both Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling helped push through the merger and says he wants to know who else was privy to merger news before the announcement as they are also party to any breach of the rules.

He adds: “If there was a breach of rules it is possible that it was a criminal offence.

“I have written to the FSA and LSE demanding an immediate inquiry. I have also written to the governor of the Bank of England asking what he plans to do after letting down the employees, depositors and shareholders of HBoS so badly by failing to provide liquidity when necessary.”


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