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Shareholders have right to be angry

The shocks keep coming. As the City reels from the enormity of HBOS’ losses and the subsequent market reaction that sent Lloyds Banking Group’s shares tumbling surely shareholders are entitled to question what happened to due diligence.

The indecent haste with which this shotgun marriage was nodded through seems to have paid scant attention to the checks and balances that normally accompany such acquisitions.

And while at the time it may have seemed to be in the interests of both the government and the banking sector, didn’t shareholders have a right to expect that their interests should have been better protected?

Sir Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin has been the subject of much vilification for apparently accepting as gospel everything that ABM Amro fed to RBS to clinch the deal. But isn’t Lloyds TSB supremo Eric Daniels guilty of ploughing much the same furrow?

There were many warning voices raised when the Treasury overruled the concerns of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. But now it seems that this was one element of the UK’s compliance and risk control that was singing the right tune.

For a man on such a modest basic salary – a mere £1m – it’s understandable why Daniels may have been distracted by the bonus opportunities afforded from asset-stripping a major competitor.

Unfortunately his shareholders are now dancing to a different tune.

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