HBOS shareholders to vote on rescue bid

HBOS shareholders will meet in Birmingham today to vote on the bank’s rescue takeover by Lloyds TSB and an £11.5bn (€12.9bn) taxpayer bail-out.

HBOS shareholders will meet in Birmingham today to vote on the bank’s rescue takeover by Lloyds TSB and an £11.5bn (€12.9bn) taxpayer bail-out.

Approval will clear the way for the creation of a banking giant with around 145,000 staff and 3,000 branches across the UK.

Unions fearing tens of thousands of job losses as a result of the deal are planning protests outside the meeting.

Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson said: “It is vital that HBOS shareholders do not merely consider the financial rewards of a takeover, but the wider social and employment implications.

“Along with the loyal customers, employees of Lloyds TSB and HBOS are the life-blood of these banks.”

But HBOS chairman Dennis Stevenson has warned the bank could face full nationalisation if shareholders fail to approve the takeover.

The British government is already set to own as much as 43.5% of the combined entity - to be known as Lloyds Banking Group – after underwriting a total of £13bn (€14.6bn) in new shares offered by the duo to strengthen their balance sheets rocked by recent financial turmoil.

These new shares are likely to be snubbed by existing investors because the offer price is above the current share prices of the duo.

Current HBOS investors – which include two million smaller shareholders – will be left with a stake of just 20% in the combined bank, with Lloyds TSB shareholders owning 36.5%.

Competition concerns over the HBOS takeover have been put aside in the interests of financial stability.

The Merger Action Group (MAG), a group of businessmen, bank customers and shareholders opposed to the deal, lost a legal challenge to prevent the takeover this week.

Today’s meeting at the NEC will see shareholders vote on plans for the £8.5bn (€9.5bn) offering of ordinary shares, as well as £3bn (€3.4bn) in preference shares to be held by the British government.

These preference shares come with strings attached such as a ban on dividend payouts while the government still holds them.

HBOS needs votes from shareholders representing 75% of shares for the capital raising and the acquisition – although for the takeover it must also win support from a simple majority of shareholders as well.

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