The UK’s biggest mortgage lender Halifax Bank of Scotland is close to a merger with Lloyds TSB. An eventual deal would spawn a 38 million-euro retail banking giant capable of riding the current financial storm and prevent a repeat of the Northern Rock crisis.
One investment manager, Elissa Bayer, said: “The fact is, I think, that it’s whether the UK government finances would see HBOS fall or (see) all the other banks come in and help. At the moment HBOS management is saying: ‘we are alright,’ but by the end of the day it will be whether investors believe that and that (whether) they can carry on.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been directly involved in the merger talks. The government has even said it will override any objections from competition regulators, who scuppered Lloyds’ attempt to take over the troubled Northern Rock last year.