Faulds bites back
Stand by for an announcement on the new owners of the good bits of Dunfermline Building Society. Two larger building societies are understood to be in talks, and two banks as well.
The government dearly hopes to get a deal before start of business tomorrow, but just in case, there is a strong emphasis from everyone on savings being safe in the Fife mutual.
It ought to be a good deal for whoever gets it, buying at this stage of the recession, while handing the government much of the risk. It may be a less good deal for the 250 or so staff who work at HQ. It won't be an HQ any more.
It's looking like quite some risk the taxpayer is taking on. The numbers we've now got from the government amount to £800m of risky assets. That's not all going to be loss, or anything like it.
But with £650m of that in commercial property and £150m in the British equivalent of sub-prime loans, it helps explain why a bank that last year turned a profit of £2m, and has today confirmed it will announce a loss for last year of £26m, is not well placed to trade out of the hole it's in.
At last Dunfermline has something to say in public, and chairman Jim Faulds is not sparing in his pent-up fury at "faceless mandarins" and Chancellor Alistair Darling. Nor is he sparing in his protestations that the Dunfermline could trade its way out of its problems, in return for a modest loan of up to £30m, and that KPMG has said the recovery plan from last October was sustainable. He's "angry and frustrated at the waste of a first class institution".
While mainly dealing with the Financial Services Authority, the only minister Faulds got to meet through this process seems to have been Lord Myners. (In light of the Treasury minister's role in the Goodwin pension, that's beginning to look like a kiss of career death.)
Signalling that he thinks there is nothing left in trying to keep Labour ministers on board, Faulds has heaped praise on Alex Salmond and the SNP administration, saying they grasped the thistle, the first minister has been "absolutely magnificent, and the people of Dunfermline, Fife and Scotland will remember that". Not the kind of thing that will keep him on Gordon Brown's Christmas card list.
Speaking on the Politics Show Scotland earlier today, the former advertising agency boss even suggested there was an element of huff at Westminster that the Nationalist administration had got involved, with an offer of support to back up its social housing loan book.
This is despite protestations of amicable dealings between Darling and Salmond, at least until yesterday. They're looking less amicable today.
But as he sprayed the TV studio with revenge, perhaps the most ominous comments from Faulds were that the government's treatment of Dunfermline may be because it knows "the building society sector has more worries to come".
- And what became of Graeme Dalziel, the former Dunfermline chief executive who took the decisions to head into risky lending and investment territory? He's not quite in the same vilification league as Sir Fred Goodwin, but it must be rather uncomfortable for him to have this publicity.
- He was last spotted heading for a speaking slot at a conference at Dunfermline's Carnegie College on Friday, entitled "Facing the Future".
- His biog: "Graeme Dalziel is recognised as one of the most successful and influential businessmen in the country today... He retired from Dunfermline at the end of 2008 having agreed that, after 10 years, the time was right to "pass the baton" to his successor. Graeme is now developing a portfolio of business interests as a business advisor, public speaker and non executive director".
- Let's see how that portfolio career develops now.