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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

MONDAY 14th FEBRUARY 2000; The Tartan Takeover - RBS Owns NatWest

There is a huge sense of anti-climax today. This was supposed to be the big day, but of course everything came to a head last week, so nothing much is going on today and we all feel more than a little flat. There is little work going on; virtually all our projects and activities have been halted or at least put on hold.

At 1.00 p.m., Royal Bank issues a Stock Exchange announcement saying that it has received acceptances of its increased offer for NatWest representing approximately 60.05 per cent of the ordinary stock. George Younger puts out a message to all staff.

"We are enormously pleased about the level of shareholder support for our vision....We look forward to working with you to create a new force in UK banking.....the pre-eminent UK financial institution to the benefit of staff, customers and shareholders. We are committed to ensuring that all staff in the new organisation receive regular communication throughout the integration process."

The immediate market response to this is not exactly what Sir George would have hoped. The RBS share price continues to fall, reaching 807p, which puts the value of NatWest below £20 Billion. Our shares are therefore worth under £12; a far cry from the £16 or £17 which the "experts" some months ago were confidently predicting.

After work, we have the celebration at the Gibson Hall that Sir David promised some weeks ago. When I arrive, I find J from my team deep in conversation with the Chairman. There are some advantages in being one of the few senior women in a very male-dominated company! I join them and we have a few minutes social chat; he seems quite relaxed and is clearly trying to get us thinking positively.

It is a very good event; decent champagne, wonderful and strange little nibbly things to eat, and the NatWest jazz band (whose existence I was not aware of) playing trad jazz stuff. Sir David makes another excellent speech, covering briefly some of the things he said the other evening, and talking about the need to work together and so on. Much of the conversation with my colleagues has now turned inevitably to the personal situations rather than the company position. What are you going to do? Do you think there'll be a role for us? Do you want to stay? Would you move to Edinburgh?

I have to rush off early to the Institute of Purchasing Dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel where I am hosting a NatWest table. It is about the only time we entertain a few of our key suppliers, rather than vice versa. (Not that we accept much entertainment either. Very high moral principles!) This is of course Valentine's Day, a particularly daft date to hold a dinner, but purchasing people are obviously not romantics as it is still a well-attended event.

I meet loads of people I know from other companies, and the big topic of conversation is our take over. I suppose this is a good opportunity to start my networking efforts in terms of a new job, but my heart isn’t really in it. I have slightly too much to drink, but not so much that I say or do anything to be regretted later and go off to my cheap hotel down the road at a reasonable hour. Being a mean purchasing person and a tight Northerner, I refuse to pay the £200 a night the Royal Lancaster is asking for a room.v

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