Tuesday, 20 December 2011

What a week: Cameron used his Veto, Clegg and Cable turning into political pygmies, Kim Jong-Il gone, Antonio back at Lloyds and choose Co-op as preferred bidder for the divestment, Peter Marks of the Co-op is happy (sort of) and Gary Hoffman of NBNK certainly isn’t.

With everything going on, I didn't have time to comment on it all, so here is a summary of the bits that matter to me. Firstly, welcome back to Antonio Horta-Osório, the Lloyds Bank CEO who suffered from extreme fatigue and therefore had to leave the sinking ship in favour of a recovery centre. The North Korean national TV station also reported that Kim Jong-Il, “the Dear Leader”, had succumbed to fatigue as well, but his absence will be more permanent, so byebye to him.

Kim Jong Un - New North Korean Leader
Now the world looks at North Korea with an equal measure of concern, fear, fascination, relief, sadness and anticipation. The new leader, the so-called "great successor", in my opinion, got himself a pretty poor start with that that name which implies he has no abilities in his own right. But he certainly appear to have all the physical attributes to give him a proper inferiority complex, the hallmark of any great dictator, so there is hope yet.

David Cameron
Our own “fearless leader”, David Cameron, went to Europe to defend vital British interest, his words not mine, and was so pumped-up that it seemed like he almost forgot to explain what he wanted before exercising his veto. Disregarding the pretty shambolic spectacle in Europe, the conservative backbenchers were almost falling over themselves to praise the leader in language that would make even the North Korean’s green with envy.

However the deputy prime-minister, Nick Clegg, was nowhere to be found, presumably still sulking over Cameron not following their agreed negotiating strategy and because he was, according to this great Mirror headline, “left looking like a political pygmy”. And what’s going to happen to the Euro? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is looking pretty messy at the moment. 

Ah. Back to the Lloyds.. The ship didn't sink, yet, and Antonio is back to preside over the divestment of the assets that the EU is forcing them to sell because of irregularities in relation to the acquisition of HBOS. Immediately before announcing the return of Antonio, Lloyds also announced that the preferred bidder for the assets will be the Co-op bank, the Co-op shortly after released a press statement of their own essentially saying, thank you but they are not sure they want to buy it :) well played!! Assuming all sorts of things, the Co-op does seem like a good buyer and could become a real player in the future.

Antonio Horta-Osório Lloyds CEO
Gary Hoffman from NBNK, the other potential buyer, didn't completely agree. He also issued a press statement which was a proper diatribe. I guess he has nothing to lose now, NBNK was formed to acquire Northern Rock and/or the Lloyds assets and as it stands they will get neither. NBNK have spent X million in salaries but can demonstrate no results, why Gary would probably be in line for a spanking. 

Then the financial services "authority" announced... drum roll please.. a recommendation to not approve too risky loans. A recommendation so therefore nothing they plan to in any way enforce. The reaction from the lenders could best be summarized as "would you just fuck off". They are struggling to find anybody worthy of lending to (in particular first time borrowers) as it stands, and are very worried about existing homeowners being unable to move from their current property, if they introduce rules that mean people can't get another mortgage. To which the FSA suggested to waive their recommendation under those circumstances (which are all the risky borrowers). I would think it's time to go back to the drawing board guys!

And finally the government continues to chip away at the John Vickers independent banking commission’s recommendations. Latest by agreeing with HSBC that “ring-fencing” of retail and investment banking would only concern the UK part of the bank. I would be surprised if any of recommendations will actually be realised in a convincing form and they definitely won’t, as Vince Cable oddly still believe, “implement Vickers in full”.       

So how is business you ask? Well people like me feed on the fallen fruit, and some disruption is therefore not always the worst for us. When people decide to change, they need help to actually do it. However at the moment it’s a bit like standing in the middle of a tornado and you don’t really know if you are coming or going, but, the uprooted apple tree might have just landed on my lap.


  1. One correction: Kim Jong-Il is the "Dear Leader". The "Great Leader" is Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il's father.

  2. @pauljpark: Thanks a lot Paul, hereby updated. I actually studied for a while at Seoul National University, so I should have gotten that one right :)

  3. Seoul National University! Blimey, the spooks will be reading your blog!

  4. @the fly: haha. fear not, it was on the right side of the border. I think the sppoks would only care if it was Pyongyang University. SNU is a great school btw, I would recommend it to everyone looking to study abroad.