Agency trio in HBOS saga

Three of the City's top agencies are embroiled in the increasingly controversial takeover of HBOS by Lloyds.

HBOS: anti-takeover campaign
HBOS: anti-takeover campaign

Maitland has been called in to work for banking grandees Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Mathewson, who this weekend led calls for HBOS to stay independent. Maitland managing partner Neil Bennett is spearheading the work.
PRWeek has already revealed that Brunswick was brought in by HBOS to work on the deal, while Finsbury remains the retained agency for Lloyds TSB.
High noon will be an HBOS EGM on 12 December when shareholders will vote on the Lloyds deal. Maitland, Burt and Mathewson will focus on generating opposition to the deal over the coming weeks and then, if necessary, drumming up support to force the company to hold an EGM to remove the existing management.
‘I find it very strange that the entire PR operation of HBOS seems intent on undermining its own business,’ says Bennett.
He promised that the campaign against the takeover will remain ‘high-profile’ in the coming weeks, including the establishment of a website for shareholders as a focal point for opposition to the deal.
Burt and Mathewson issued a press release on Wednesday warning shareholders of ‘the dangers of an anti-competitive over-mighty leviathan’. They want the bank recapitalise with government money and continue as a stand-alone business.
The opposition centres on the view that HBOS is being badly undervalued in the merger. HBOS, the larger of the two institutions by many measures before the credit crunch hit, will only end with 20% of the combined business.
The campaign against the deal has attracted backing in media and political circles in Scotland, but reports suggest large HBOS shareholders remain unconvinced. The FT quoted one as saying: ‘They have no credibility, no support. It is ludicrous.’

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