Bradford & Bingley's public sell-off 'flawed'

Shareholders claim 2008 privatisation was contrary to democracy

1964 B&B is a result of the merger of the Bradford Equitable Building Society and the Bingley Building Society, both established in 1851

1995 The group spends more than £1,000 on Stan Laurel's bowler hat, a nod to the corporate logo of two City gents wearing the headgear

2000 The company is demutualised and floated on the London Stock Exchange

2008 B&B is part-nationalised and Santander takes over its £20bn savings business

2010 The independent valuer said no compensation should be given to former shareholders

The nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley in 2008 was a "flawed decision" that not only destroyed shareholder interests but also a "viable business", it has been claimed.

Investors hit by the company's collapse have expressed their dismay in submissions to the Information Commissioner's Office, which has so far prevented them from accessing any of the official documents.

The Bradford & Bingley Shareholder Action Group, which represents almost a million former shareholders, will appear before a tribunal later this month in their quest for compensation.

In documents seen by The Independent on Sunday, the BBAG said: "It is four years, six months since the nationalisation and despite thousands of requests from B&B share and bond holders, they still do not know why the Government and tripartite regulatory authorities acted as they did.

"B&B had a far stronger balance sheet than Royal Bank of Scotland (RBOS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), despite this, its savings book and branch network were sold thus destroying it as a viable business and with the Government having control of the winding down process, a matter of continuing and considerable concern to the former shareholders and remaining bond holders.

"Why was B&B treated differently to these other banks?"

Bradford & Bingley, which sponsored many high profile cricket and rugby league teams, was highly exposed to the troubled buy-to-let mortgage market, ran into difficulties when funding from the wholesale money markets dried up at the start of the crisis.

The Government merged Bradford & Bingley's toxic mortgage debt with the so-called "bad bank" of Northern Rock, which was nationalised in 2007. Other parts were sold to Santander for £612m.

The news comes just days after two separate lawsuits were lodged by campaigners seeking redress for losses suffered during Royal Bank of Scotland's rights issue in 2008, which failed to prevent its falling into state ownership several months later.

"In BBAG's view the decision to nationalise B&B was neither proportionate nor equitable and not consistent with the support given to other banks at the time," the group added.

"If a government confiscates the property of its citizens without reason, explanation or fair compensation, particularly when it may be seen as at fault in its duty of care to savers and investors by not adequately regulating the companies involved in the banking crisis, then all concepts of democracy and equity are laid aside.

"We submit, the role of fair and honest government is devalued."

Building society's rise and fall

1964 B&B is a result of the merger of the Bradford Equitable Building Society and the Bingley Building Society, both established in 1851

1995 The group spends more than £1,000 on Stan Laurel’s bowler hat, a nod to the corporate logo of two City gents wearing the headgear

2000 The company is demutualised and floated on the London Stock Exchange

2008 B&B is part-nationalised and Santander takes over its £20bn savings business

2010 The independent valuer said no compensation should be given to former shareholders

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