Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Every Day We Had the Option to Close Northern Rock; the Man Who Rebuilt Bank Speaks Out

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Every Day We Had the Option to Close Northern Rock; the Man Who Rebuilt Bank Speaks Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

THE man who rebuilt Northern Rock has told how for months he had the daily option of just closing down the bank.

Ron Sandler, executive chairman of Northern Rock plc, has told The Journal how the bright future the bank is now looking at was once one of continuing uncertainty. Mr Sandler said there was a long period throughout 2008 in which "there was in every decision the fall-back option to just close this bank" down if things were not going to get better.

Under his leadership and, he says, the hard work of the Rock's workforce, that option was never worked up.

But, he said, the option to "lock up the doors, walk away and wind down the assets" remained until late 2008 when the decision was taken to split the bank. "Although," he says, "Even this was a leap of faith at the time."

Mr Sandler said: "We can really now start to go forward, there is no question now there is a growth agenda for Virgin Money and that is good news for the North East. It is a very satisfying outcome. I came in the depths of the crisis and it has been a long and not always straightforward journey.

"We have navigated through some very turbulent waters, I can't always tell you how many icebergs we have come close to but what I can say is that staff have been enormously resilient, they deserve the outcome that has now been delivered to them, they deserve the credit for this.

"There have been challenges. You never really know when you come into these things. When I arrived in February 2008 the economy was still, at that point in relatively good shape. The real financial crisis had not yet really escalated to the way that it did in the later part of that year. "My expectations were formed in very different economic circumstances, but you concentrate on the job at hand and you don't spend too much time trying to recreate your expectations from the outset. …

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