IN 2010, the newly formed Metro Bank Plc became the first new UK high street bank to launch in 150 years and all went well at first.
Initially a it launched on the stock exchange and by 2018, share prices rose to almost £40 (€46) but the revelation of a major accounting error saw shares plummet and the resignation of its two founders.
Now it is being openly courted by Colombian investor Jaime Gilinski who was formerly the largest investor in Spain’s Sabadell Bank has now become the largest shareholder in Metro by increasing his holding through British Virgin Islands subsidiary Spaldy Investments to 9 per cent.
The British government has been encouraging banks to make special loans and set up new accounts for small businesses and made a grant of £50 million (€57.5 million) to Metro but the bank has now decided to refund the loan and not increase its commitment to business risk.
One of Britain’s largest lenders, the Nationwide Building Society has followed suit, returning its grant of £50 million because it believes that the ongoing risk of lending to small businesses following the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is simply too great.
It has actually ‘dipped its toes in the business waters’ about 12 months ago and the decision to pull out of this market is estimated as being likely to cost Nationwide £70 million (80.5 million).
The decision made by both lenders was released after a report from the Corporate Finance Network of accountants suggested that up to 18 per cent of all small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are at risk of imminent collapse.
The £100 million returned by the two organisations is now available for other potential lenders to bid for.