Bradford and Bingley, Fortis and Wachovia all in deep trouble
29th Sep 08, 8:49am
The British government is expected to nationalise mortgage bank Bradford and Bingley later today, while Belgian/Dutch banking giant Fortis is in crisis talks with authorities about an urgent sale or government bailout. America's sixth largest bank, Wachovia, also faces an uncertain future as it negotiates to find a saviour, although there are doubts one will step forward, given assets will be cheaper in any firesale after a collapse than before. The UK Treasury is expected to announce later today the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley after attempts at a managed sale of the troubled mortgage bank failed. Bradford and Bingley has 50 billion pounds of loans, including 42 billion pounds of mortgages. Its 20 billion pounds of deposits and 147 retail branches are expected to be sold and the government is assuring depositors that their money is safe, The Times reported. Dutch/Belgian bank Fortis is reported to be in crisis talks with European authorities after its shares collapsed late last week. It is widely reported to be considering a sale of all or parts of the company. Fortis denied on Friday it had liquidity problems before its interim CEO was sacked. "Fortis' board held an emergency meeting on Sunday, a source close to the board said, and new CEO Filip Dierckx then joined Belgian and Dutch ministers and central bankers meeting with Trichet nearby at the Belgian parliament," Reuters reported. "A document Dierckx carried into the meeting, photographed by Reuters, listed a range of options including "Fortis to sell stake in ABN AMRO for x billion euros to xx" and "governments of Belgium and Luxembourg to invest xx billion euros in Fortis." Meanwhile, America's sixth largest bank, Wachovia, is in talks with Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Banco Santander about a potential takeover, but there are concerns potential buyers will wait for Wachovia to collapse to buy assets cheaply rather than buy it outright, as JP Morgan Chase did with Washington Mutual last week. "People close to some of the bidders said they were reluctant to move until they knew details of the bail-out plan being discussed in Washington," the FT reported. "Some bidders also want the government to step in and guarantee losses on more than US$120bn of mortgages held by Wachovia," it said, adding that the government had been reluctant to do this over the last month.