HBOS fury as EU backs Santander's Abbey bid

HBOS, THE Halifax and Bank of Scotland group that is considering whether to make a bid for Abbey National, yesterday reacted furiously to a statement from Mario Monti, the European Union Competition Commissioner, which appears to welcome Abbey being taken over by Santander Central Hispano of Spain.

HBOS, THE Halifax and Bank of Scotland group that is considering whether to make a bid for Abbey National, yesterday reacted furiously to a statement from Mario Monti, the European Union Competition Commissioner, which appears to welcome Abbey being taken over by Santander Central Hispano of Spain. This pre-empts Mr Monti's own European Commission, which on 17 September will release the results of a study into the effects of an Abbey-Santander combination on bank competition.

At a press conference in Cernobbio, Italy, Mr Monti reportedly said: "It is one of the first cross-border transactions in the banking sector, and it will increase the integration of the common market and that of financial services."

The sentiment, and the unconditional tense in which it was expressed, provoked HBOS into a bitter statement. It said: "These are worrying and inappropriate comments from Commissioner Monti. The Commission must ensure as a matter of priority that merger investigations are conducted in a completely impartial and transparent way.

"These remarks are akin to a judge commenting on a case before the trial is heard. We hope that Mr Monti is not putting any inappropriate pressure on the decision-making process. We will be asking the Commission for clarity about his remarks at the earliest opportunity."

HBOS is the only company to have sent a complaint to the EU Competition Commission in response to the review of Santander's bid for Abbey. HBOS wants the commission to force Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland to unwind their cross-shareholdings before Santander be allowed to buy Abbey. RBS has a 2.83 per cent stake in Santander, which holds 5.15 per cent of RBS.

The speed and strength of HBOS's riposte indicates how keenly it regards Abbey, after four weeks of intensive research into the feasibility of mounting its own takeover for the bank.

HBOS refused yesterday to comment on reports that it had postponed from last week to this a board meeting to decide on whether to rival Santander's approach. Sources close to HBOS said the decision had been taken last month to delay the planned 2 September meeting because that would not have given enough time for the detailed research into Abbey.

Santander has said it wants to buy Abbey for £8.6bn, but the formal offer will not be made until later this month. Some observers believe Santander will have until the Commission report is published in 11 days. That may in turn affect the timing of any approach from HBOS. Should HBOS bid, analysts expect other UK banks to join the fray, at which point the Office of Fair Trading would almost certainly have to refer the auction to the Competition Commission.

Abbey National shares closed at a 2004 high of 610.25p on Friday, up 5.25p.

Suggested Topics
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?