WESTMINSTER BANK LOSES FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE
Westminster Bank has lost its fight for independence after
shareholders accepted a take-over offer from a smaller bank,
the Royal Bank of Scotland.
pounced on an institution that had become a shadow of its former
self. In the 1970s, NatWest really didn't know what to do with
all those huge profits from ordinary Britons' bank accounts.
The bank built the tallest office block in London - the NatWest
Tower, It set up branches across the globe and moved into the
risky world of stock market trading and investment banking.
of the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London, told us about the
culture at NatWest:
has traditionally been probably the most slow-moving of the
big High Street banks: very bureaucratic, very traditional,
very grand, with an atmosphere a bit like the Civil Service
- a very gentle, civilised place. Their head office is an
art gallery. It's currently showing a modern art exhibition.
They have always been quite generous to their staff. In fact,
the board has managed to accumulate four knighthoods and two
peerages between them."
wasn't just red tape and bureaucracy that caused NatWest's downfall....
the management packed with peerages just didn't have the expertise
to move outside what it already knew.
other one of its downfalls was a series of disastrous forays
outside its core retail banking business - into investment banking
in America; they tried to set up a retail bank in America. They
bought something called Hambro Megan, which is a small corporate
advisory outfit. They spent $100 million on that and then they
decided that was no good. They had NatWest's market, which is
an investment bank in the UK. And that had a £85 million
blibrary discovered in 1996."
suddenly found that the traditional gentlemanly insitution
was incapable of dealing with these very new businesses.