Investors stick together

SMALL shareholders of Northern Rock have continued to pull together amid uncertainty about a takeover.

SMALL shareholders of Northern Rock have continued to pull together amid uncertainty about a takeover.

The Journal reported yesterday how local businessmen have been joined by families and savers to form an alliance in order for their voices to be heard.

A spokesman for the North-East’s largest financial institution said last night that out of its 180,000 shareholders a third are estimated to live in the region.

They are being urged to sign up to the specially-created Northern Rock Small Shareholders Group.

Yesterday we reported PR agency boss Robin Ashby’s fears that after a takeover small shareholders would be dispossessed, with virtually no compensation, and robbed of their future stake.

Mr Ashby, of Gosforth, Newcastle, who owns a number of shares, as do his family, said the campaign had generated interest from small shareholders.

It is hoped that if the business, based in Gosforth, and which employs 5,600 people, was to be sold then the group would fight for it to continue as a going concern. He said: “I want as many small shareholders as possible to register with us so we can show we have a real strength of feeling in the region on these issues.”

It is rumoured staff are to receive an e-mail later today from a senior head office executive stating that positions, at present, remain safe. A spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm reports apart from to say: “We communicate regularly with staff.”

Last night the mortgage lender’s price advanced as rumours of an imminent private equity rescue swept the market.

Anyone wanting to get in touch with the Northern Rock Small Shareholders Group should e-mail or writing to Northern Rock Small Shareholders Group, 17 North Street East, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8DF.

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Gratitude marked with freedom

COUNCIL leaders in Newcastle are standing by Northern Rock by pressing ahead with plans to award the bank the honorary freedom of the city.

Newcastle City Council announced plans to make give the mortgage bank the honour just days before bosses announced they had received an emergency loan from the Bank of England. But council leaders say they wish to continue with their plans to give the company the highest honour the city can bestow.

The award recognises Northern Rock’s contribution to the local economy, its charity work and its role as an ambassador for the region.

A special council meeting will be held today [WED], when councillors will be asked to pass a resolution put forward by council leader Coun John Shipley awarding the bank the freedom of the city. The Rock will join a select band of 76 individuals and 12 organisations which have received the honour in the past 121 years.

Previous recipients have included Nelson Mandela, Sir Bobby Robson, former American president Jimmy Carter and Newcastle United Football Club.

Yesterday councillors, including Lord Mayor Peter Arnold donned specially printed “Rock Steady” T-shirts to show their support in advance of today’s motion.

The Lord Mayor said: “The freedom motion was agreed to be put to the city council some time before the current market difficulties, and recognises the importance of the company to the local economy over many years and the significance of its support to many important local causes.”

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Rally round to help the Rock

THE Journal is calling on the region to rally around Northern Rock, asking members and supporters of all those organisations who have been helped by Northern Rock and its foundation, as well as our readers and the wider North-East community, to demonstrate their faith and confidence by opening an account with Northern Rock.

You can do it for just £1, or as much as you like.

And we ask that every organisation that Northern Rock and its foundation have supported to use its mailing list to encourage others to open an account too.

Our front page launching the campaign is available in an electronic file which you can request by contacting The Journal newsdesk on (0191) 201-6344 or – to send on to your network of contacts, and for them to pass on.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer