Loans and Finance

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

War is Declared

Whilst Northern Rock has been all but destroyed, in terms of value and reputation by the ambitions of those who once sat on its board, the shareholders do not intend to be thrown into the dustbin of history without a struggle.

Northern Rock's largest single shareholder John Wood's SRM Global hedge fund has increased its stake in order to oppose the board backed bid for Rock by Virgin, which many shareholders believes undervalues the company.

Virgin has received the explicit backing of Rock's board, and the muted backing of Chancellor Alistair Darling. However, the two largest shareholders SRM and RAB Capital reportedly prefer a rival bid from Luqman Arnold's Olivant group.

What is rather strange in all of this is the fact that the board of Rock have not even given the rival bid any consideration.

Some are concerned that undue pressure is being applied by Darling to the board to make this problem go away as quickly as possible, thus reducing the government's exposure to the ongoing fallout.

In effect, Rock has been quasi nationalised.

SRM are having none of this and now control 8.5% of the Bank, together with RAB Capital the rebel alliance of shareholders now control north of 15%.

However, Sir Richard Branson is no shrinking violet. He has upped the ante by taking out full page adverts in national newspapers, signed by him defending the bid.

War has been declared!

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