Chancellor Philip Hammond is forever banging on about the importance to Britain of getting a good global deal for financial services.
But when it came to the landmark 7.7 per cent share sale of Royal Bank of Scotland shares this week, support of UK Government Investments and the Treasury for home-grown investment banking was absent.
Much of the political rage surrounding the transaction has been to condemn the Government for taking a £2.1billion loss on the taxpayer stake.
But that is as much to do with former Chancellor Alistair Darling being advised to overpay in the first instance. Besides, after dozens of fire-sale disposals, RBS is a shadow of the group that it used to be.
When it came to the landmark 7.7% share sale of RBS shares this week support of UK Government Investments and the Treasury for home grown investment banking was absent
If the US bank and Lloyds share sales are taken as a guide then the act of re-establishing a public market for the stock is more important than initial returns.
Subsequent sales given a fair economic wind ought to be at higher prices.
Virtually no attention has been paid to the fact that Citigroup, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, the banks gifted the task of selling RBS, are all American.
Britain’s only full service investment bank, Barclays, was left out. This is hardly helpful to Barclays as it bids for new work here in the UK, on the Continent and in the US.
There can be no real excuses. In the recent past Barclays was the choice for a big fund raising by Standard Chartered, was involved in the flotation of Virgin Money and has done pan-European fund raising for ABN Amro and the Dutch insurer ASR.
Given the scale of its work for other British institutions there is no reason to believe that it is lack of capability or conflict that caused it to be left off the RBS offer.
Moreover, Goldman Sachs and others have been distinctly unhelpful to City interests post-Brexit, with loose talk of moving jobs. Goldman also was among banks castigated in the Commons and by the National Audit Office over the flawed flotation of Royal Mail in 2013.
By choosing a garlanded group of US banks and ignoring Barclays the Government has made a wilful mistake, making it harder for UK-domiciled City firms to win global mandates.
One almost expects corporate greed at luxury fashion group Burberry, where former boss Christopher Bailey is still taking shareholders for a ride with a £13million payout over two years.
But one didn’t expect it at York-based housebuilder Persimmon, which has grown fat on the back of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.
Persimmon’s new head of the pay committee Marion Sears ought to have come fully armed with facts for a witness session before Parliament’s business select committee.
But her appearance was as hapless as Persimmon’s chief executive Jeff Fairburn has been in recognising that his greed is an affront to the housing industry.
Sears was reluctant to acknowledge that Fairburn and his fellow executives had carted off share options in forklift trucks.
She claimed Fairburn had only received a mere 2 per cent pay rise to £650,000. Then admitted it was closer to £45million, quite a difference.It was also wrong.
The annual report and accounts show a figure of £47.1million, part of a package that is actually worth more than £100million, less some £25million Fairburn agreed to sacrifice.
The pay director was equally as useless on worker rewards and seemed unaware that the company does not pay the real living wage. Fairburn’s bonus of £75million alone would pay the annual wages of 4,100 staff.
Fairburn has seriously damaged the reputation of a good company. That the chief executive hasn’t been dispatched into the outer darkness, taking Sears with him, is one of the mysteries of our time.
The more one thinks about the sale of 51 per cent of ARM China to unnamed Chinese financial interests for just £578million, the more insane it looks.
Reuters Breaking Views calculates that on the basis of its turnover and earnings the enterprise value of Arm China should be £4.85billion, not the £1.1billion placed on it by Softbank’s boss Mayasoshi Son.
None of this looks right and the dismemberment of ARM could well be in breach of undertakings made by Softbank when it bought ARM. Time for the Takeover Panel to make enquiries.