Outlook: Pride and ego breed a banking farce

WHAT A cock-up. The recriminations were flying thick and fast last night as Bank of Ireland's proposed merger with Alliance and Leicester collapsed in a heap. It was always rather hard to see the point of this marriage of traditional Irish retail bank and converted British building society. Even as an example of cross border consolidation, it looked a less than overwhelming deal, and from the start both sides were struggling to sell its merits to the City.

Maurice Keane, Bank of Ireland's chief executive, seems to have had an even tougher job persuading his own board of its virtues. By the look of it, there was little prior consultation about the exact structure of the merger, and if Alliance and Leicester is to believed, a number of directors appear not to have known about it all. Plainly they didn't like what they saw.

The objections came thick and fast. Where would the head office be? Would the chairman have the casting vote? Who would be the lead regulator? Would there be cross guarantees of each other's liabilities, and by the way, is it to be flock or pastel wall paper and whose dinner service will be brought out on special occasions?

According to A & L, it was all to do with safeguarding non executive jobs on the court of the Bank of Ireland, nice little numbers which Ireland's great and the good are understandably reluctant to surrender. If this seems a rather far fetched, though not entirely unbelievable, explanation of why the marriage failed at the altar, it was certainly the case that both sides in this supposed merger of equals thought it was they who was taking over the other.

A & L was always keen to stress to anyone that would listen that its own man, Peter White, would be getting the top executive job, while playing to its home crowd, Bank of Ireland presented the deal as an important one over on the Brits - the acquisition of a venerable British institution.

This merger was plainly never meant to happen and it is perhaps just as well this was discovered before any real damage could be done. As it is there could yet be fallout. The deal's failure is a profound embarrassment to all concerned and if it is true that Irish non executives were not adequately briefed, then heads could yet roll.

Equally, the affair reflects badly on Alliance and Leicester, which has now twice failed to pull off a consolidating merger, first time round with the Woolwich. Mergers in the British banking sector remain as elusive and hidebound by ego and pride as ever.

u

u

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Smart phones, dumb reading: Rebecca and Harry from ‘Teens’
tv
News
people
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss