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Co-op shareholders agree £700m rescue deal

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In an effort to save the Co-op Bank from being wound up, a group of five US hedge funds have increased their share-holding from 80 to 99%, with a promise to inject fresh investment.

The deal will see the Co-op Group’s stake in the bank reduced to just 1%.

The hedge fund investment in 2013 saved the bank from going under and helped to protect over four million customers.

At the beginning of 2017, there was an unsuccessful attempt to sell the Co-op Bank following which the consortium of hedge funds agreed to increase their shareholding, injecting £250m and £440m of debt was wiped off.

Although the deal, approved by the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, provides welcome relief to the embattled bank, many parties have expressed concern about the organisation retaining its “ethical” way of doing business.

Shaun Fensom from the campaign group, Save Our Bank, recently told BBC Radio 5 Live that “there is every indication that the hedge funds – who are only going to be there for a while – understand that the commercial survival of the bank very much relies not only on talking the talk on ethics, but walking the walk as well.”

These special ethical values include the bank not providing services to fossil fuel companies and payday loan providers.

The rescue package approved by 90% of shareholders on Monday 21 August is expected to go through by the start of September 2017 and will spare the regulator the job of stepping in to manage a wind up of the bank which was founded in 1872.

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