Britain to unveil second bank bailout package
AFP - 2 hours 28 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to announce measures on Monday to "get lending moving" in the troubled economy, in a fresh bid to revitalise the banking system.
It will mark a second bailout of British banks, following the 37-billion-pound (54.5-billion-dollar, 41-billion-euro) recapitalisation scheme in October, which has largely failed to restore confidence in the banking sector.
The announcement came after Brown told British banks on Saturday that they must own up to the extent of their bad assets.
"We have recapitalised the banks, we have injected money into the economy, at the same time we know that the essential problem that has been holding back banks internationally is the resumption of lending," Brown told journalists in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday.
"That's what we're going to be doing tomorrow (Monday) and that is what the package is about," he said on the sidelines of a summit on the Gaza conflict.
"My first priority is hardworking families worried about whether they can get a mortgage, businesses who work hard every day. They need the banks to do the job they say they're there for."
The Treasury said it was looking at "a range of options", with one of the ideas "in the mix" being a taxpayer-backed insurance scheme.
The BBC and Sky News reported that a scheme would be set up where banks pay a fee to have a certain degree of their bad loans -- those likely to default -- underwritten by the Treasury, leaving them free to increase lending.
In another measure, it was reported that the government would convert its preference shares in Royal Bank of Scotland obtained during the last bailout into normal shares.
This would mean the bank would no longer have to pay a fixed dividend to the government, thus freeing up cash to lend to businesses and individuals. In return, the taxpayer's stake in the bank would increase, the BBC said.
Officials were also thought to be considering guarantees for inter-bank loans, while Sky News reported that Northern Rock bank, which was nationalised last year, would stop trying to shrink its mortgage book.
"What we want to do now is to get the resumption of lending and you will see tomorrow there are measures taken that will ensure that banks and non-bank institutions are able to resume lending," Brown said.
"What we want to do is see businesses get the money that they need to be able to create jobs and secure investment for the future."
Brown said Saturday that British banks' exposure to global losses was the largest problem they faced and called for an internationally-agreed solution.
"The international community has got to modernise and change and reform and get to the roots of the problem that make us angry about the way that the system is operating," he told reporters in London.
His comments came after shares in Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays plunged Friday after US giant Citigroup announced an 8.29-billion-dollar fourth quarter loss and Bank of America got a 20 billion dollar state bailout.
Recession is likely to become official in Britain this week when data is expected to show that the economy contracted for a second straight quarter in the final three months of 2008.
Last week, London unveiled a plan to guarantee up to 20 billion pounds of loans to help small businesses survive the credit crunch.
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A Barclays bank logo in central London in 2008. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to announce measures on Monday to "get lending moving" in the troubled economy, in a fresh bid to revitalise the banking system.
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