B&B shareholders step in to plug gap

Bradford & Bingley’s major shareholders were today stepping in to salvage the lender’s £400m (€505m) funding plan after a US private equity firm walked away from the deal.

Bradford & Bingley’s major shareholders were today stepping in to salvage the lender’s £400m (€505m) funding plan after a US private equity firm walked away from the deal.

Texas Pacific Group, which was due to buy 23% of the company as part of a wider funding package, announced last night it was withdrawing its £179m (€226m) cash injection after the lender’s investment status was downgraded by a ratings agency.

B&B said a group of its largest shareholders, including M&G Investment Managers, Legal & General Investment Management, Insight Investment and Standard Life Investments were now backing the deal.

The bank, which has been badly hit by the credit crunch, is raising the money to help shore up its finances.

TPG's cash had been lined up alongside a deeply discounted rights issue - a call on existing shareholders for cash - which would have raised another £258m (€325m).

B&B said it was proceeding with its capital plans through a bigger rights issue, which would raise £400m (€504m) after fees. This is being underwritten by banks Citi and UBS.

The lender said TPG’s withdrawal came after ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its unsecured and long-term debt ratings, which effectively tells the market that the firm is a greater investment risk.

B&B’s executive chairman Rod Kent said: “Whilst we are disappointed that TPG intends to terminate its subscription agreement, I am pleased that Citi and UBS and our major shareholders continue to support our proposed capital issuance.

“Bradford & Bingley continues to be well-funded and the capital raising will reinforce our position as one of the better capitalised banks and one of the leading mortgage and savings banks in the UK.”

The funding plan involving TPG had attracted a raft of criticism from investor groups.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) branded it “unacceptable” because it removed the right of pre-emption for shareholders – in which new shares should be offered to existing shareholders in proportion to their existing holdings.

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