It seems that TSB is now in play.

At the weekend news broke that the Co-operative Bank had made an approach about a possible merger with TSB. According to the reports the Co-operative Bank approached Banco Sabadell, TSB’s Spanish owner, a month ago offering to pay more than £1bn for the business. The new business would have 8 million customers covering current accounts, mortgages, credit cards, savings products, and business accounts. The business would be larger than Virgin Money.

TSB is just too small to seriously challenge the main banks, that was the big mistake made by Sabadell and since the IT disaster, a merger with another smaller bank was always seen as the most likely outcome. Let’s not forget, Sabadell put the business up for sale last year so it realised itself, late in the day, what most informed observers realised and we predicted five years ago.

Banco Sabadell is probably holding out for more money. It bought TSB for £1.7bn and no doubt wants to recoup as much of that money as possible. Sabadell said: “This is not a transaction that we wish to explore at this moment, as we have previously expressed publicly”. The operative words are “at this moment”. We’ve no doubt that the right moment will come.

Whenever there is a merger or a takeover it’s almost always the employees that lose out most. It will be no different whenever TSB is sold. We can expect a lot of head office jobs to become redundant and more branches will be closed. Assuming there’s a sale, The Competition and Markets Authority will have an important role to play in determining the future of TSB and we will want to make sure that the interests of staff are not lost in the rush to make money. In that process TSB staff will need a totally independent, professional voice speaking for staff, not some illusory partnership with the Bank that offers silence in return for recognition. Accord, who sit firmly in TSB’s pocket and will remain silent whatever the Bank says or does, have shown that they are completely toothless. We now need the rest of TSB’s staff to join our fight to protect staff.

We’ve said it before, but all of this is a far cry from the promises of 2015 when TSB’s Chief Executive at the time, Paul Pester, said that Sabadell’s firepower would help the lender build its position as Britain’s challenger bank. Instead, Sabadell and the TSB senior management team, almost managed to destroy a bank. Whether the dire decision making originated in London or Spain is unclear but whatever the reality, Sabadell succeeded in trashing the TSB brand and put at risk the jobs of thousands of people.

Members with any questions on this Newsletter can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 716029 (Choose Option 1).

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