Europe Economy

Europe this Week: Banks, Banks, Banks

The week started and finished with news of the nationalization of British troubled bank Northern Rock, ending a five-month period of uncertainty about the bank’s future. In between, results from banks caused investors ecstasy or agony.

Monday, Feb 18: N. Rock Goes National

            Sunday afternoon, Finance Minister Alistair Darling announced the nationalization of UK bank, Northern Rock. This came as a blow to both large and small shareholders who have recently attached the word “thief” to the UK government. Monday, shareholders began to asses their options to ensure fair compensation. Click here to read more.                  

Tuesday: Feb 19: Barclays Moves Markets

            In the midst of challenging market conditions over the last several months, UK bank Barclays’ shares rose 11 percent on Tuesday as it confessed a relatively small increase in writedowns. Barclays president, Robert Diamond, said the bank’s overall performance is one that gives the bank the ability to look towards a challenging, yet positive 2008. Click here to see the full interview.

Wednesday: Fed 20: ING Plans for the Future

            Dutch financial services group ING felt the impact of the subprime fallout less than expected due in part to strong commercial performance and life insurance sales. The group reported a fourth-quarter impairment charge of 194 million euros ($286 million) on riskier investments, and plans to grow in retail banking and pension market, CFO John Hele told CNBC Europe on Wednesday. For more, follow this link.

Thursday: Feb 21: SocGen Confirms Q4 Record Loss

            French bank Societe Generale confirmed a 3.35 billion euro ($4.93) fourth-quarter record loss on Thursday, feeling the effects of the biggest rogue trading scandal in the world. Like many of the world’s major banks, Societe Generale was hit by losses due to the global credit crunch and says the future may still hold further writedowns. Click here for the story.

Friday: Feb 22: Serbs Protest, Attack Embassies

            Thursday, enraged Serbs who refused to acknowledge Kosovo’s pronouncement of independence attacked several Western embassies of countries who backed the move for a new state. The European Union condemned the attacks and called for the protection of foreign embassies in Serbia on Friday. Read the full story.

Lloyds TSB's Positive Picture

           Lloyds TSB reported healthy earnings despite the financial markets’ turmoil. The UK lender increased writedowns to $547.3 million Friday on its exposure to risky assets, but reported a rise in full-year underlying profit and a positive outlook for ’08. Click here for the story.

Government Buys N. Rock Shares

            Friday the UK Treasury announced it bought all the shares in troubled bank Northern Rock, including its preference shares. The Treasury also said that an order setting up compensation for shareholders will be sent to parliament shortly. Here is the full story