The lion bank -
Metro Bank wins lion's share of RBS-funded competition scheme
Metro Bank has clinched the biggest award to date from a £775m scheme meant to boost competition in the banking sector, despite the revelation of a major accounting blunder at the high street lender last month.
The independent Banking Competition Remedies body awarded the first tranche of cash to Metro Bank, Starling Bank and Clear Bank – with Metro securing the largest pot of £120m. The others will take home £100m and £60m, respectively.
The other applicants – CYBG, TSB and Co-operative Bank – failed to win any of the three grants. However, they will have a chance to apply for second, but smaller, pool of funds, the largest of which is worth £50m.
The top award to Metro Bank comes despite it suffering a share price fall of almost 40% in a single day last month after it revealed problems with how they classified loans. Metro Bank’s chief executive, Craig Donaldson faced criticism after not initially admitting that the error was found by the Bank of England.
Metro Bank committed to matching the award with £240m of its own investment and opening another 30 branches in the north of the UK. Starling said it will launch an online portal for business customers alongside its mobile app-based bank, while ClearBank will partner with the Tide digital banking brand to allow company registration alongside opening a current account.
The cash awards are part of a £775m fund, bankrolled by Royal Bank of Scotland as part of conditions attached to the £45bn government bailout – which amounted to state aid – during the 2008 financial crisis.
The so-called alternative remedies package replaced plans for RBS to sell off a portion of its SME banking business, meant to be launched as a standalone bank known as Williams & Glyn. However, plans to spin off or sell that bank fell through.
The resulting funds have been divvied up into two pots. They include a £425m capability and innovation fund, meant to help challenger banks develop their current account, lending and payments offerings for business customers. The awards were administered by Banking Competition Remedies Ltd, a body established to be independent of RBS and the government.
The other is a £350m incentivised switching scheme, aimed at getting up to 200,000 RBS and NatWest business banking clients to switch their accounts to other banks through preferential terms like free banking or a cash offers.
Nine challenger banks will participate in the scheme, starting from 25 February, including: TSB, Co-operative Bank, Starling, Santander UK, Metro Bank, Handelsbanken, CYBG, Hampden & Co, and Arbuthnot Latham.
Though it rarely rates a mention in the Australian financial press, there is a spectacle in London at the moment that rivals even the most ferocious games at the Roman Colosseum. Almost every day, a bunch of bankers (playing the Christians) are thrown into a cage with ferocious lions. The lions are the members of the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, ably assisted by a sabre-toothed tiger (Rory Phillips, QC).
Each session, a sorry load of Lords, Knights and just plain knaves turn up to be savaged by the Committee. If animals were involved, the RSPCA would have intervened by now. But it goes on nonetheless because, although unsavoury, Schadenfreude is deliciously filling, especially if you are a British taxpayer with an empty belly.
The Commission’s remit is very wide. There are enough banking scandals to keep them busy for a very long time, including the LIBOR scandal [Barclays and RBS], money laundering [HSBC], mis-selling of Payment Protection Policies (PPI) to consumers [Lloyds], and mis-selling of interest rate hedging products (IRHP) to small businesses [all of the above]. The field is so large that the Commission has had to break itself up into smaller panels, currently running at 11 separate sub-committees — and growing.
When questioned by the Commission members, the responses of the Chairmen (all men), CEOs (again, all men) and various senior managers (almost all men) of major banks were all very similar: “Yes, we agree, what happened was awful”, followed by “Yes We were indeed in charge at the time”; then, “Yes, we are very sorry about what happened”, trumped by “But No, we didn’t see it coming”. Clearly, a case of “see no evil”.
If it were an isolated event, such a response would be hard to believe, but benefits of the doubt may have been given. When it is all banks, all boards, and all management across a series of financial scandals, the “dog ate my homework” excuse runs a little thin.
The question that jumps out is: what is the state of corporate governance in UK banks if their boards are unaware of such scandals?
Three “wise” bankers illustrate the shambles that is corporate governance in the UK banking industry.
First, Lord Stevenson of Coddenham, the hapless chairman of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) when it managed to run up debts of some ₤25 billion dabbling in commercial property before the GFC. The good Lord was not behind in pushing himself forward. “I am legally responsible for the business and, with the modesty for which I am not famous, regard myself as being knowledgeable and well briefed”, he told the Commission.
But blow me if the Baron didn’t see it coming. “Beyond peradventure, I take very seriously the fact that we failed to foresee the outcome of events. It is not missing a trick; it is missing a huge avalanche, and I deeply regret it”. (The use of the word “peradventure” is very fitting of an Oxbridge man.)
After a tussle with Commission members as to whether he was in fact in a “non-executive” or “part time” role at HBOS, Lord Stevenson insisted that “as a part-time chairman, there is no possibility that I would have known the detail of what was going on in the corporate division”. In a nutshell, Lord Stevenson’s defence was, even though he was paid some “£600,000 of basic pay a year”, he didn’t have enough time, as a part-time chairman, to do the job properly.
Baron Stevenson then threw Peter Cummings, ex-head of the HBOS corporate division (and the only person to be officially sanctioned in the UK banking fiasco) to the wolves, with faint praise: “A man of huge integrity and, despite everything that happened, of great ability, was in charge of it. I can see, given their view, why they [regulators] enforced against him”.
The next wise banker is Douglas Flint CBE, who had the good fortune to replace the accident-prone Sir Stephen Green as group chairman of HSBC. Flint is the quintessential numbers man, a grandee of accounting, and has been on the board of HSBC (mainly as chief financial officer) since 1995.
In his meeting with the Commission, he was asked: “Given that the [US] Senate reported that HSBC had ‘long-standing, severe, anti-money laundering deficiencies’, what does that failure tell you about the culture and the organisational weakness in HSBC?”
In true Yes, Minister style, Flint obfuscated. “Certain of the matters that should have been shared and escalated were not being shared and escalated as well as they should have been”. He then threw the new CEO to the wolves. “I would like to ask Mr Gulliver to comment on how we have dealt with the operational side of dealing with these issues that arose”. If Mr Flint has been on the Board for over 18 years, surely he would know more about a long-standing problem than someone who has only been on the board for four years? But obviously Flint had not been told, or did he hear no evil?
There is a cast of pantomime characters who have appeared before the Commission but one, Eric Daniels, ex-CEO of Lloyds Bank, stands out as an exemplar of bad corporate governance. As befits a native of the Wild West, Mr Daniels was suitably combative, denying everything. When asked whether he would so anything different as regards the PPI disaster that developed on his watch, Mr Daniels replied: “In those cases where there were mis-sold products — the customer did not understand what they were receiving, or it was not appropriate for them — that clearly is wrong, but that is not the majority, in my view”. In other words: I see no evil?
Given that PPI has already cost Lloyds about ₤5 billion in compensation claims, that is a hard argument to sustain. Nevertheless, Mr Daniels did his best Gladiator impression, amid outbursts of laughter from the Commission. It’s all the fault of the regulator [laughter]. “I think that by and large the British banking system is one that serves its customers well … so I believe that while the controls could continue to evolve and always should, they were certainly the best in class at the time”[more laughter].
On the other hand, one can feel a tad sorry for Mr Daniels, who “did not receive a bonus for 2011, 2012 or 2013, nor did I receive one for 2008 or 2009”. But Daniels, who resigned in 2010, had been CEO of Lloyds TSB since 2003, when selling shonky PPI policies started to grow. Save your tears.
For the real aficionados of banking regulation and blood sports, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was, as reporters put it, “grilled” by the Commission this week.
We await further testimony and the corrected transcript of the exchanges but, in the week that the UK lost its prized triple-A credit rating, the Chancellor was clearly in garage-sale mode: “a load of RBS branches up for sale, and Lloyds branches as well”. A case of throwing bank staff as well as bankers to the wolves.
For those who are missing their weekly diet of European bloodletting, the Commission on Banking Standards is worth watching out for. There’s a lot more to come.
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Red Lion National Bank
The Red Lion National Bank is a offshore firm managed by Felix Manning and Wilson Fisk.
- "He's been funneling his money through Vancorp, which is the shell corporation that owns the hotel, and he's keeping it in an offshore firm named Red Lion National Bank."
- ―Karen Page[src]
Due to his work as a fixer, Felix Manning was hired by Wilson Fisk to use Red Lion National Bank for his illicit transactions. Having received money from Vancorp, Manning laundered it through Red Lion to make a purchase of the Presidential Hotel untraceable.
Threat to Nelsons
Learning about financial problems of Nelson's Meats, Red Lion National Bank contacted Theo Nelson. Red Lion's loan officer advised him how to falsify the store's assets to make it look healthier. It worked and the loan comes through without a hitch. Sometime later, Felix Manning met with Theo and informed him about his accounting what could put Theo and his parents in jail. He said that Red Lion will contact with the loan and inform them about it unless Theo could convince Foggy Nelson to walk back everything he said about Wilson Fisk. In the wake of arrest of Manning and Fisk, Red Lion Bank was taken down by Blake Tower.
How the Lions Helped
The Lions Clubs that established the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia in 1978, created an organization that has restored the sight to thousands of individuals in the Tidewater region of Virginia, across the United States, and throughout the world. Without the continued support and generosity of the Lions Clubs of the Tidewater region, we could not provide the precious gift of sight to thousands more in need.
Lions Clubs have long championed eye banks as a key to restoring sight to the blind and nearly blind. At the 1925 Lions Club International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, Helen Keller addressed the crowd of dedicated community servants. During this address, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to “Be the knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Since that pivotal moment in history, the Lions have founded eye banks around the globe and established many successful initiatives with the goal of eradicating blindness. The crusade against darkness is continuous and today the Lions remain steadfast in their support of eye banking.
Become a Lion
If you are interested in serving your community and making a difference in the lives of others, consider becoming a Lion. The motto of Lions worldwide is “We serve.” The only requirement of being a Lions Club member is to live by this motto. To learn more about becoming a Lion, please visit the Lions Club website at http://www.lionsclubs.org where you will find links to clubs near you, who would welcome you with open arms.
8 Secrets Of The South Bank Lion
Think you know all about the South Bank lion? There's more to this leonine statue than meets the eye.
1. He started life selling beer
The lion statue you can see at the south end of Westminster Bridge first started life sitting on top of James Goding's Lion Brewery building in the 1830s.
An inscription on his paw, 'WFW Coade 24 May 1837' gives a very precise birthday for this lovely lion.
The WFW is his creator's initials: William Frederick Woodington was a notable sculptor, and curator of the Royal Academy's School of Sculpture from 1851.
The word 'Coade' describes the material from which our lion is made. More on this later.
The Lion Brewery, and our feline friend, prospered it was badly damaged by a fire in 1931.
The brewery lay mostly derelict until it was demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall.
2. He's older than he looks
Looking at the lion's lovely clean white coat, smooth mane and pristine paws, it seems surprising he's nearly 200 years old.
The secret to this big cat's polished appearance is down to a very special material: Coade stone. Not really stone at all, Coade stone is actually a ceramic material, or fortified clay, made to a recipe by a Richard Holt, and tweaked and perfected by Mrs Eleanor Coade around 1770.
Coade stone was popular for making statues and architectural decorations in the late 1700s and early 1800s, as it was easy to work with, and resistant to weathering.
It fell out of favour in the 1840s; today the cheaper Portland Cement is more likely to be used.
There are about 650 examples of Coade stone artworks still around today: our lion is one of the best examples.
He weighs 13 tons, and was made of separate parts cramped together. His size and weight can, in part, be attributed to the proximity of the Coade Stone factory in Narrow Wall, Lambeth, to the Lion Brewery in Belvedere Road where he took up residence.
3. Emile Zola was a fan
In 1893, Emile Zola was staying at the Savoy across the river from the brewery. Like us, he was impressed by this gorgeous beast, writing, 'It amused me greatly, this British Lion waiting to wish me good morning."
Years later, towards the end of his life, Zola is said to have returned to visit the site to see the statue, which is affectionately referred to as 'my lion.'
4. He was saved by a king
When the Lion Brewery was knocked down in 1949, the largest lion was preserved, seemingly at the wish of King George VI.
5. He prowled around Waterloo for a while
Thus our magnificent, but curiously down-in-the-mouth lion found himself at the entrance to Waterloo station, just in time to greet visitors to the Festival of Britain.
But he was uprooted again, when an office block was built next to the station in 1966. The GLC moved the statue to his current position at the end of Westminster Bridge, and renamed him the South Bank Lion.
6. He hasn't always been white
Today the South Bank lion is a gloriously glossy white, a great example of how well Coade stone can last.
But at some point it seems this lion was painted red. Sources vary: some say he was red when he graced the top of the Lion Brewery, which was also known as the Red Lion Brewery; others insist he was rouged while he was standing guard at Waterloo station, as a nod to British Rail's mascot at the time: a red lion.
We rather like him in white, so hope he doesn't succumb to the same retrofitting as Crystal Palace's sphinxes.
7. He's got a time capsule in his bum
When the Coade Stone Lion was removed from the top of the Lion Brewery, workers found a bottle in a recess in its back. Inside were two William IV coins and a Coade trade card.
In 1966, when the big cat was moved again, the time capsule was updated.
A 1966 coin was added as well as a copy of the GLC Chairman's letter (published in The Times, 17 March 1966, which gave a brief history of the lion), and a copy of an article on Coade stone by JH Holroyd, (also published in The Times, 5 March 1966.)
8. He's part of a set
Originally, there was a triplet of lions created by Woodington for the Lion Brewery.
One of the Southbank Lion's siblings survived, and can be seen at the entrance to the Rowland Hill Gate at the All-England Rugby Football Club in Twickenham.
This lion was given to the Rugby Football Union in 1971, its centenary year. He was covered in gold leaf in 1991, when England hosted the second Rugby World Cup.
Sadly, Woodington's third lion (perhaps the one shown above?) was destroyed.
You might also like:
A Closer Look at London's 10,000 Lions
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Last Updated 06 September 2016Источник: https://londonist.com/2016/09/the-south-bank-lion
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