IT WILL be business as usual for hundreds of workers at Northern Rock’s Sunderland call centre today.
As revealed in yesterday’s Echo, Virgin Money is taking over the bank will not affect staff at Doxford International Business Park.
Northern Rock was divided into two separate companies after its collapse, with the company’s bad debt taken over by the newly-created Northern Rock Asset Management (NRAM).
The new deal refers to Northern Rock and not NRAM, which will remain in public ownership.
A spokesman confirmed today the situation at Doxford had not changed.
“Everybody has known for some time that Northern Rock was for sale, it was inevitable at some stage.
“But we have a very clear remit to manage the mortgages that we have, and to bring as much benefit to the taxpayer as possible.”
The North East Chamber of Commerce welcomed news of the £747million deal.
“The announcement that Northern Rock is returning to private sector ownership is a significant milestone for the company having endured three incredibly turbulent years and undergone complete restructure,” said chief executive James Ramsbotham.
“It is extremely welcome news that new owner Virgin Money is committed to creating a new headquarters in Newcastle, and has provided assurances that there will be no additional compulsory redundancies for at least three years.
“Hopefully this announcement will bring stability back to Northern Rock, and help restore public confidence in the banking sector.”
However, Sunderland-born Dennis Grainger, spokesman for the Northern Rock Small shareholders’ Group, condemned the way the deal had been reached.
“While the small shareholders would, of course, recognise that a sale of Northern Rock away from Government hands is in the best interest of the taxpayer and possibly the company itself, it has to be remembered that this company was seized from its 160,000 shareholders by the Government for no actual payment.
“Many of these shareholders were pensioners, leaving their shares for their children or grandchildren.
“This seizure was carried out with the stated intention of ultimately making a profit out of the deal.
“However, many would regard the action in placing stringent conditions on the independent valuer, which were regarded as grossly unjust and unfair by the shareholders, made the seizure of the Rock tantamount to a theft by the government.
“That is why the shareholders’ case, against no compensation being paid, is currently with the European Court of Human Rights awaiting a hearing.
“Shareholders are confident that the court will rule that then government behaved unfairly in the arrangements for compensation.”