` Co-operative Groups Merger with Britannia Flawed Though Merger Advice Given by J P Morgan for £7 Million Fee ‘

AceFinanceNews – BRITAIN – April 30 – The Co-operative Group is facing calls to claw back pay from the executives who presided over its tumble towards collapse as a review blames a “culture of mediocrity”.

The independent review of the problems which led to a £1.5bn funding gap, carried out by Sir Christopher Kelly, was commissioned by the bank before it fell into the control of US hedge funds.

It concluded the roots of its problems lay in its 2009 merger with the Britannia Building Society – burdened by property loans which turned sour at the height of the financial crisis.

Sir Christopher said the bank’s demise reflected a “sorry story of failings” on many levels.

The review found “overwhelming” evidence that Britannia chief executive Neville Richardson, who took over as boss following the tie-up, failed to leave the new business “in a good position” when he left in 2011.
It also said the culture of the bank was such that there was a “willingness to accept poor performance” and a “tendency not to welcome challenge”.

Led at the time by Peter Marks, the board of the wider Co-operative Group was also criticised.
Sir Christopher said it had failed to provide an “effective stewardship” and had let down the group’s millions of members.

The findings were released as research by Sky News identified pay and bonuses among three key figures in the Co-operative movement worth more than £12m between 2008 and 2012.

Mr Marks topped the list with a total £8.1m, followed by Mr Richardson with £3.77m and disgraced former Bank chairman Reverend Paul Flowers, who received £750,000.

In an interview with Sky News John Mann MP, a member of the Treasury Select Committee and member of the co-operative movement, slammed rewards for failure and said the report showed that shareholders deserved to get money back.

Commenting on the conclusions of his report, Sir Christopher told Sky News: “The executive of the bank proved incapable of dealing with some of the difficult issues it faced.

( Guardian) Reported – December 13 – Regulators should investigate how investment banks are paid for takeover advice, according to the head of the Treasury select committee, after JP Morgan revealed it received £7m for advising the Co-op Bank on its disastrous merger with Britannia Building Society.

The US bank would have received nothing if the deal had not gone ahead, the bank revealed to MPs.

Members of the Treasury select committee said the investment bank had given “a green light” to Co-op’smanagement to do the deal which generated a multimillion pound fee for the US bank.

Tim Wise, one of JP Morgan’s top bankers, admitted that the Britannia merger had worked out badly but insisted his bank’s advice was sound at the time and that he would never be swayed by the prospect of a large fee.

However, the committee’s chair, Andrew Tyrie, said after the hearing that regulators should scrutinise how investment banks are paid for orchestrating takeovers. “A fee structure for the provision of independent advice that heavily incentivises one outcome over others strikes me as inherently problematic.

The industry and the regulators will need to look closely at the way such advice is remunerated,” he said.

Ace Related News:
1. Sky News – April 30 – http://tinyurl.com/pnvljrg
2. Guardian – December 13 – http://tinyurl.com/paaju22

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