Bradford & Bingley shareholders ‘robbed’

Jon Knight | September 29, 2008 | 1 Comment

The nationalisation of Bradford & Bingley is the most blatant case of legalised bank robbery this country has ever seen, with almost a million shareholders likely to lose a fortune.

The whole point of having shareholders in a democracy is that they own the company and can decide its fate between them, including sacking the board or deciding to sell to a new owner if they wish.

Yet the Treasury has apparently decided, behind closed doors, to take over ownership of Bradford & Bingley and sell off the viable bits to anyone it chooses.

There has been no consultation with the shareholders whatsoever. There is no statement on the Bradford & Bingley corporate website. And the only information worth having seems to be coming from Robert Peston at the BBC.

Surely, at the very least, B&B’s board should have called an extraordinary general meeting for shareholders to decide the way forward.

It is customary in this country for owners to be consulted on what becomes of their property before it changes ownership.

Anything else is classed as theft.

If Gordon Brown had walked up to me in the street, pulled a gun, and run away with £3,700 of my money, he’d be sitting in a cell right now and the country would be facing a General Election.

Instead, my shares - and those of 940,195 other B&B investors - appear to have been confiscated.

At the close of the stock market on Friday, those shares were worth 20 pence each. What, if anything, are they worth now? Do they even still exist?

We have no idea, and even the incredibly well-informed Robert Peston doesn’t offer any information what might become of them.

While it’s only fair that depositors at B&B are protected, surely shareholders have rights, too?

It’s true that investing in shares carries risks. We all know and understand that. But there is a monumental difference between the risk of a company going bust, rendering shares worthless, and the risk of a government stepping in and helping itself to the company without even consulting its shareholders.

That sort of thing was reputed to happen in the Soviet Union of old or in banana republics - but this is the United Kingdom in the 21st Century.

Once word gets around that the Government reserves the right to seize private companies on a whim without reference to its owners, rendering shareholders’ investments valueless overnight, people are going to be afraid to buy shares at all.

And that, more than anything, could bring about the wholesale collapse of the stock market.

In the meantime, we shareholders are waiting for any kind of news from anyone about us. We might have had our company confiscated, but what about the money that was ours as recently as Friday?

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  1. pal says:

    seems like nobody knows what they are doing should have been a criminal investigation when b and b was nationalised(stolen)so much for british democracy make you wonder if it was worth winning world wars might as well have given it to the germans at least they would have had the bottle to say
    we will do as we please

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