Conspiracy theorists (Bloomberg included) are suggesting that Virgin Group Ltd. founder Richard Branson, currently seeking financing for his offer to buy Northern Rock Plc, is traveling with Gordon Brown in China, and by sheer coincidence and the two have a plan. Surprisingly (!) this story has been been peddled assiduoulsy by the BBC through nudges and winks by Nick Robinson.
Sovereign wealth funds, which invest money controlled by national governments, have taken stakes in banks including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. in recent weeks. China Development Bank has also invested in Barclays Plc, Britain's third biggest bank.
Perhaps the cash rich Chinese might like to invest in Northern Wreck with the boundless opportunities to be associated with hugely successful Nnewcastle United) as sponsors ?
``The Chinese seem hungry for exposure to financial services,'' Phil True, head of U.K. equities for asset management at Credit Suisse Group in London, e-mailed Bloomberg ``There may be some opportunities to pick out some stocks in the U.K. market which are undervalued.''
Brown has repeatedly said he is keeping all options open (Trans : we haven't a fucking clue what to do) to recover more than £25 Bn. (US$49 billion) in government Loans / Guarantees supporting Northern Rock, including nationalizing the bank. The government would consider allowing a bid for the bank financed by a sovereign wealth fund, Michael Ellam, a spokesman for the prime minister, said on Jan. 10.
``I don't think anybody wants to see it nationalized,'' Branson told any journalists willing to listen to the bearded wonder, many iof them fast asleep on Brown's flight to Beijing late yesterday. ``We are the only serious contenders. The management indicated that they agree. The board have indicated they agree. I am still confident a deal can be done.'' ....zzzzzzzz
``I'm confident that the Bank of England can put a proposition together that can save Northern Rock,'' Branson burbled on.
Comvincing Chinese state funds to back a buyout of Northern Wreck could reduce the chances that the government would have to nationalise the bank which a gang of crooks has taken over a cliff and is now entirely supported by the Bank of England.
It is highly unlikely that the Chinese are anxious to resolve Brown's dilemma and Branson will not be seen as a suitable custodian or user of their funds.
It does demonstrate how desperate the Gubment is to offload this crock which if nationalised (the most sensible solution at present as repeatedly stated for months by Vince cable - and Lord Patel) will hang like a millstone around the Gubments neck - a lasting memorial to the Balls/Brown Tri-partite bag of Management speak shite .
UPDAT Sat. 2.00 : The BBC 4 news is assiduously boosting this story by leading the news with it and with a fuzzy telephone interview with the bearded business genius from Shanghai.
Private Eye No 2001 11/24 Jan issue (not online) . Their invariably accurate and well sourced "In the City" has a detailed and fascinating background on the finances,novel accounting procedures and trajectory of Virgin Money (transferred 1 year ago from the UK registered Virgin Money Investment Group VMIG)to the Virgin Group registered in the sunny tax haven of the British Virgin Islands ) and eccentric valuations - transferred for £2.00 into the VMIG in 2005 (with net liabilities of £49 Mn.) and then in the above transaction at £199Mn (with an accumulated and handy £24 Mn. losses on the balance sheet reflecting the previous less than stellar trading history) - and now in various PR bullshit as having an "implied capital value" a year later of £250 Mn.
The previous history of the Virgin Money which was shared with Henderson Holdings Group( we exited non-core or non-performing business) and the 2005 sale of their share is very well explained in this article from the Sydney Morning Herald 29/4/04 - especially the quote from (then) Virgin Money's Australian managing director, Rohan Gamble (there's a name for a banker) "We don't really worry about profit, to be honest," Mr Gamble said. "We are interested in growing the business as fast as possible and reinvesting our cash back into the business." HHG later said in their results, of the sale of their 50% holding -" In the period to disposal, HHG’s share of Virgin Money profit was £1million"
Virgin Money acquired CircleLending for US$49 last year which is the basis for it's US operations ... their unorthodox methods of conveying financial information to it's customers - whilst novel, even entertaining, is hardly likely to impress Gordy's hosts in Shanghai who prefer bankers to have short hair, no beard, a sober suit and neat tie.
Meanwhile the bearded wonder is moving on ....Bloomberg reports of his barnstorming China tour "Richard Branson plans to establish a company in China to help the world's biggest emitter of climate-altering gases develop clean energy and cut emissions.
``We plan to invest quite heavily in it,'' said the billionaire, who is traveling with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on his first visit to China as head of government. Branson's Virgin Group Ltd. invests in alternative-energy technologies including windmills, hydroelectric projects and solar power ..... zzzzzz.
They also report that "The U.K. and China signed eight agreements on education, climate change, renewable energy and the development of sustainable cities during Brown's visit. " Bet they make fascinating reading.
See also CNN story that Brown is thrilled by Sacks of Gold bond ideas and that darling will make a statement on Monday - if it smells like shit ...
UPDATE Saturday night : BBC is endlessly repeating the Branson plan with the Sacks of Gold / Bonds stitch up that will shower money on the City and it's brokers / advisors etc.,.. and get this fucking nightmare off Gordy's desk.
Channel 4 news at 6.30 Gary Gibbons in Shanghai with Gordy helps sell the "Brown's Bonds" - Gordy will be in sunnier India when Darling unveils this master plan to enrich the merchant bankers on Monday. You can get CH 4 on the trial Simulcast - excellent.
Nation being softened up to give away £55 Billion.