Bradford & Bingley accused of abusing rights

27 June 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Bradford & Bingley has come under fire from all directions as it refuses to acknowledge a potentially beneficial investment.

Earlier this week, Bradford & Bingley became the apple of more than one investor's eye as Clive Cowdery's investment company Resolution attempted to gazump the pending rights issue agreement between the buy-to-let mortgage specialist and Texas Pacific Group (TPG).

However, Bradford & Bingley has so far refused to open its books to Resolution, which offered a £400million investment opportunity that could potentially give insurance mogul Clive Cowdery the lion's share in the bank.

Bradford & Bingley's refusal has reportedly sparked outrage among its shareholders, whose rights were not acknowledged when it came to the TPG rights issue agreement.

However, it seems it is not just shareholders who are not willing to give up, Resolution has reportedly claimed that it has support from 40 per cent of Bradford & Bingley's shareholders, which could prove enough to out-vote the TPG agreement.

It is not just shareholders who have been outraged by Bradford & Bingley's reckless behaviour; the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has also damned its misconduct and issued an amber top, meaning shareholders should act with caution.

Peter Montagnon, director of investment at ABI, said: "The proposals by Bradford & Bingley involve breaches of fundamental principles of sound governance which are unacceptable to shareholders and would normally automatically attract a red top, indicating our most serious level of concern."

Speaking of the mortgage specialist's failure to issue warning of its need to raise cash through a rights issue, Mr Montagnon concluded: "We remain very disappointed that the board of Bradford & Bingley failed to ensure a timely flow of management information that could have prevented the need for this unsatisfactory arrangement and urge the regulatory authorities to take additional care in encouraging bank boards not to put themselves in such a position in future."

Meanwhile, other leading high street banks have been more successful. Barclays has narrowly escaped launching a rights issue in favour of a shares issue supported by new investors, and HBOS announced yesterday that it has secured shareholder support for its £4billion rights issue.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd