WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Virgin not yet the Rock’s saviour

The Government was accused of ‘rushing’ by accepting Virgin Money as the ‘preferred bidder’ for Northern Rock, described as a ‘national laughing stock’ (Chris Blackhurst, Evening Standard, 26 November).

In the face of more ‘criticism over its economic competence’ (www.politics.co.uk , 26 November), the Government’s haste to support the Virgin bid was defended at the CBI conference by Gordon Brown. This was despite pressure from acting Lib-Dem leader Vince Cable, who called for trading in Northern Rock shares to be suspended (Mirror, 27 November).

Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Ghadia, whose own credentials to lead the rescue operation were questioned, called the bid the ‘best deal for all stakeholders’ (The Times, 27 November), while Sir Richard Branson wrote a personal letter to all Northern Rock shareholders to tell them that he was ‘personally committed’ to the bid (FT, 26 November).

However, smaller shareholders led a chorus of disapproval, calling the entrepreneur’s offer ‘derisory’ (Guardian, 27 November), and voting to reject the ‘fire sale’.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow

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