You have to take your hat off to the government and Virgin Money for their PR operation, which has left the nation believing that Northern Rock is now in the hands of cuddly balloonist Sir Richard Branson.
The numbers tell a different story. Wilbur Ross, who we introduced you to yesterday morning, put in nearly £260m – some five times the £50m investment made by Virgin Group. Stanhope Investments, the Abu Dhabi fund, also put in £50m. Read more
Mark Field, the Tory MP for the City and Westminster, and Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, make an unlikely pairing. But both men yesterday came out and attacked the government’s sale of Northern Rock to Virgin Money, asking whether it was the right time to strike such a deal against the backdrop of choppy markets.
Both wondered whether George Osborne might have extracted more than the £747m on completion of the sale — total proceeds could rise to just over £1bn over five years — had he waited a little longer. Both men also asked whether the government had fully explored the idea of the bank being turned into a mutual.
(Meanwhile Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott has put down some parliamentary questions asking if the Treasury have made it a condition of the deal that full British tax must be paid on all profits of Northern Rock and all dividends and capital gains received by the consortium.)
Others were more realistic on Thursday, with Lord Myners, the former Labour City minister, telling the Financial Times that his was a “very good price” to have achieved in Read more