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Top bankers in new attempt to block £6.5bn HBOS deal

Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Matthewson, two of Britain’s top bankers, want to stop the £6.5bn rescue takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB. Sir Peter, the former chief executive of Bank of Scotland, and Sir George, ex-chief of the Royal Bank of Scotland, believe HBOS should remain independent. They argue that it is now viable thanks to capital made available by last month’s Treasury bail-out.

The pair have written to the chairman of HBOS, Lord Stevenson, saying that he and the HBOS chief executive, Andy Hornby, should resign and

that Sir George should become the chairman and Sir Peter chief executive. Sir Peter was Bank of Scotland’s chief when it merged with Halifax to form HBOS.

Their letter states: “It is our intention to create a detailed alternative plan that we believe will represent better value for both the HBOS shareholders and stakeholders alike by keeping HBOS as an independent bank.”

If the bank refuses to appoint them, they plan to “canvass shareholder support” to requisition an emergency shareholders’ meeting to seek Lord Stevenson and Mr Hornby’s removal. The pair want to get HBOS back into

shape, recruit new management and make themselves redundant once the task has been achieved.

Their intervention will go down well in Scotland, where there have been worries that the takeover will lead to thousands of job losses and branch closures throughout the UK.

In another move today, Jim Spowart, right, the founder of Intelligent Finance who is fronting a mystery bid for HBOS, has said he will put up or shut up on any offer this week.

He said: “Negotiations about a possible bid are still ongoing. We expect to be able to make a statement either way this week.”