Letter: British banks let firms sink

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IN HIS article about the Lancer Boss receivership ('Lancer Boss 'forced under' ', Business, 12 June), David Bowen writes about the rejection of the Jungheinrich bid worth DM3 ( pounds 1.20) for their German and Austrian operations.

On the face of it, this is an outrageous offer for such fine companies. But is this a case of 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story' or is it not understandable that when a company's liabilities outstrip its assets, the value of the shares is nominal, DM1 for one company and DM3 for three companies?

In a 'going concern' sale the bidder negotiates a restructuring of the company's liabilities with the main creditors (the banks), which means the creditors have to write off part of their debt. The German banks were prepared to do this and the British banks were not: they were holding out for full payout, possible only if the company went into receivership.

It is yet again a question of culture. Germany has a manufacturing culture with strong support from the banks, who take a long-term collective view. They are prepared to take a cut now in the knowledge that the industrial base is safeguarded. Britain, on the other hand, has a financially dominated culture where banks make single case short-term decisions at arm's length from industry.

R A Bischof

Chairman, Boss Group

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

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