Merger Action Group admits defeat: No appeal

The Merger Action Group has decided not to take its legal challenge against the HBOS takeover any further.

The group of over 750 businessmen, shareholders and customers has decided not to appeal the decision made by the Competition Appeal Tribunal yesterday.

Malcolm Fraser, MAG spokesman, says: “We are glad we took the stand we did and that we were able to highlight the issues in advance of any vote.

“It is now up to the shareholders to decide what is in the best interests for themselves, the banks, and their staff and customers.”

“We are satisfied that our legal challenge against Lord Mandelson’s extraordinary decision to approve this takeover without referring it to the Competition Commission was right, proper and responsible.

He adds: ‘”We take great heart from the Competition Appeal Tribunal corroborated this view even though, on very strict and narrow legal grounds, it ruled against us.

‘We have also been encouraged by the huge groundswell of public and
political support for our cause, which in itself is rewarding given that our
only motive in bringing forward this appeal was to protect and stand up for the
public interest.”

The group is reviewing whether it should now disband in light of the decision or carve a role for the future.

Legal costs of the two-day hearing are yet to be resolved. MAG’s legal action has largely been funded by public donations.

HBOS shareholders are due to vote on the proposed takeover by Lloyds TSB tomorrow.

A senior source at HBOS says: “As far as we were concerned the merger was always a done deal.”