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UK government offloads final part of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley for £5bn

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·3 min read
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Branch of mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley in Chelmsford, Essex.   (Photo by Ian Nicholson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Treasury sold the two outfits and their remaining mortgage and loan portfolios to a consortium comprising asset manager Davidson Kempner Capital Management and Citibank. Photo: Getty

The UK government has completed the final £5bn ($6.9bn) sale of its assets in Bradford & Bingley and NRAM Limited (formerly Northern Rock).

The Treasury said that the sale was a "significant milestone" after a year-long effort to offload the last remnants of its stake that it bought in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when it was bailing out banks.

It sold the two outfits and their remaining mortgage and loan portfolios to a consortium comprising asset manager Davidson Kempner Capital Management and Citibank.

“This sale represents a major achievement. At last March’s budget, we promised to finally return B&B and NRAM to private ownership and we have done just that,” John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said.

Glen added: “We are continuing to protect consumers while recovering significant amounts of the taxpayer money used to ensure financial stability during the financial crisis.”

The two companies have been part of UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) since 2010 — a holding firm for their closed mortgage books with a balance sheet of nearly £116bn ($162bn) — following the nationalisation of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

Customers will not move to a new lender under the deal and they do not need to take any action and will continue pay back their mortgages on the same terms as before, the Treasury said.

"They will continue to receive the same protections for the lifetime of their mortgage as they do today, and their ability to remortgage will be unaffected.”

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During the financial crisis, the two entities were deemed too important to go bust after images of rows of customers queueing outside the banks surfaced when problems started brewing.

Savers were estimated to have withdrawn a total of around £1bn when Northern Rock first sounded the alarm over its troubles. This prompted then-chancellor Alistair Darling to guarantee all deposits in the bank, to curb the outgoing cash.

The bank had been seeking buyers to take over Northern Rock, but failed in its efforts as no bidders could sufficiently guarantee they would be able to return the billions owned to the UK government. As a result HM Treasury took over, afterwards Northern Rock was split into two parts.

One part was acquired by Richard Branson's Virgin Money (VMUK.L). The deal saw Virgin take over 75 Northern Rock branches and one million customers.

The second part renamed NRAM Limited — an asset holding and management firm — or the "bad bank"held the bad, risky debts.

The UK government has been selling off assets its bought during the 20018 crisis for years. It offloaded the last stakes it owned in Lloyds (LLOY.L) after taking a 43% share at its peak. It still owns 62% of NatWest Group (NWG.L), formerly known as the Royal Bank of Scotland.

WATCH: Why can't governments just print more money?

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