Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fluctuat nec mergitur

Those of you who know, or have deduced, that I work for Bank of Scotland, may also have spotted that that august and 312-year-old establishment has been and gone and got itself taken over by Lloyds TSB Group. Of course, seven years ago it had already been merged with the Halifax Building Society to form HBOS. There is speculation of 40,000 job losses UK-wide and 4,000 in Scotland. Probably those figures are pessimistic - certainly in the short term - but who knows? To the boards of LTSB and HBOS it isn't a question of a glass half full or a glass half empty, but a glass twice as big as necessary. Still, speaking as one whose job was under threat before the takeover announcement, I'm taking one day at a time. Like the guy falling from the skyscraper repeating over and over "OK so far....OK so far....OK so far..."

Someone corrected me at work for referring to a "merger" when technically it's a takeover. Well, OK, but the Halifax takeover was technically a merger. When one is being shafted does one care whether it's side by side or one on top of the other? (Joke: please don't fire me yet.)

I decided I should adopt the motto of the City of Paris. Normally translated as "She is battered by the waves but does not sink", it is "fluctuat nec mergitur". It occurred to me that "shaken, not stirred" would be a very good translation as well, and then I wondered whether anyone could come up with a more topical one (though remaining plausible in terms of the Latin). You know, "the wobbly's not for merging", that kind of thing. Go on, you know you want to. If a man can't find Latinate nerds on the World Wide Web, then what's a broadband modem for?


At 20 September, 2008 14:34, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Oh, armholes, that's pretty sucky. Do you think that things will be okay?

Sending you postive vibes and hearty FUs to the market riggers who put your bods in the mess in the first place.

At 21 September, 2008 08:16, Blogger Z said...

I'll think, but I doubt I'd beat 'shaken, not stirred'.

And what Lisa said.

At 21 September, 2008 20:43, Blogger Rob said...

Lisa, thanks for the vibes - much appreciated. Consider yourself hugged.

There's no good news in a situation like this, but assuming I survive the round of redundancies already under way before all this at HBOS (which seems probable) I'm probably OK for a year or two. With luck by the time the Angel Of The Sack comes round again I'll be just that bit closer to going anyway and will be happy to take a package and volunteer. Not at all good news for any of the branch staff though; and while LTSB's announcement that they would focus on retaining jobs on Scotland played well up here, down in Yorkshire it won them no friends.

Much for me to do as a union rep in the meantime, though (sigh...) a whole new bunch of management and union people to do it with.

I don't think the HBOS board are wholly blameless (a big hedge fund did it and ran away....) as far as the underlying mess goes. Our sub-prime exposure was very small, but the proportion of our funds that we obtained via the capital markets (see under Ancient History) very high. Once the markets dried up, HBOS fluctuat. (Hmmm.....mixed metaphor there. Oh well.)


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