UK's four largest banks in $60bn lifeline call - report

UK gov't poised to launch rescue deal for major financial institutions.
By Ralph Gowling
Sun 12 Oct 2008 07:41 AM

Britain will launch its biggest retail bank rescue on Monday when the four largest, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and Barclays, ask for a combined $60.5 billion lifeline, UK media reports claim.

The unprecedented move would make the government the biggest shareholder in at least two banks, HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland, the Sunday Times reported on its website. It did not give a named source for its information.

No government officials or representatives from the four banks were immediately available to comment on the report.

British Chancellor Alistair Darling, attending a G7 finance ministers' meeting in Washington, said on Saturday the government was to give more details early this week about its already announced 400 billion pound banking rescue plan.

The Sunday Times said the scale of the fund-raising could lead to trading at the London Stock Exchange being suspended to give the market time to digest the impact.

The newspaper said Royal Bank of Scotland, which has seen its market value fall to below 12 billion pounds, was to ask ministers to underwrite a 15 billion pound cash call.

It said HBOS, Britain's biggest provider of mortgages, was seeking up to 10 billion pounds. Lloyds TSB, in the process of acquiring HBOS in a rescue merger, wanted 7 billion pounds, and Barclays needed 3 billion pounds, the newspaper said.

A government source told Reuters on Saturday the British government could end up with seats on the boards of major retail banks.

The Sunday Times said the bank rescue could leave the government owning 70 percent of HBOS and 50 percent of Royal Bank of Scotland, and as a result it could take board seats at both banks and exercise control over future dividend payments.

Crisis talks were taking place this weekend between the Treasury, the Financial Services Authority, the Bank of England and heads of the four banks, the Sunday Times said. (Reuters)

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