Three big banks speak up to aid troubled SMEs

Tim Wallace
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TROUBLED small businesses will be treated transparently and openly when banks look at restructuring their operations, the big banks pledged this weekend, a year after a damaging row about failing firms.

Last year, RBS was accused of taking assets off firms to turn a profit, rather than honestly trying to help them in its Global Restructuring Group. The bank hired lawyers to investigate, and found the claims to be untrue, but the incident brought unwelcome publicity.

The new set of principles unveiled by the Institute for Turnaround (IfT) and the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) promises more communication with firms and more use of independent analysts to value assets.

Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC have spoken out to back the new guidance.

But RBS has not voiced its support, though it is thought to have agreed to the new principles through the BBA.

The bank was unable to comment yesterday.

“We emphatically welcome banks’ decision to support our principles, improving the provision of effective and consistent business support for the clients of all UK banks,” said Christ­ine Elliott, the chief executive of the IfT.

“Business support bankers do challenging work, sometimes against the clock, to save jobs and companies.

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