Newsletter 07 October 2016

Register now for the Customer Union Conference

Now that the Co-op Bank Customer Union is up and running, with the help of the 1,500 founding members who crowdfunded it into existence, we’re holding our first conference on Saturday 19th November in Manchester. Registration is now open

The most important reason for the conference is to discuss strategies for achieving our main goals – keeping the Co-op Bank ethical, and helping return it to co-operative ownership. We’ll remind ourselves what we’ve achieved together so far, discuss current campaigns and future priorities, and think about ways to make the Customer Union work as a modern, democratic co-operative. It’s also our first chance to meet and chat offline, in the real world.

We’ve got a great venue sorted at Ziferblat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. We’ve kept fees as low as possible: it’s £10 for members of the Customer Union (all who contributed to the crowdfunder) and £20 for non-members, until the end of October.

Finally, there will be lunch, and coffee. So, please register if you can make it.

For those that can’t be there, rest assured there will be other ways for all members and supporters to have their say about the Union’s future direction soon.

Co-op appoints Bank of America to advise

Since our last newsletter at the end of July, the most significant news we’ve seen from the Co-op Bank is that they’ve hired that giant of definitely-not-very-ethical banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to advise on the “turnaround and potential sale” of the Co-op Bank.

It’s not surprising that the hedge funds that own 80% of the bank want to sell up as soon as they can make some money on their investment.  But what we, along with many of the bank’s customers, want to see is the bank return to its roots as a co-operative, and the choice of Bank of America does not provide reassurance that there will be a detailed consideration of the options for customer ownership. We're determined to change this. How we can do that will be on our agenda in the coming months, including at the conference.

Other news from the Co-op Bank

Also, the bank reported its half-year results – it made a loss of £177m in the first half of 2016. That's a moderate improvement from a £204m loss in the same period in 2015. (Guardian)

And, finally, the Co-op Group has appointed a director to the board of the bank for the first time since the bank was "rescued" by hedge funds, as Sky report. We've called for this, most recently when we attended the Group's annual general meeting (AGM) earlier in the summer. As the article says, it's a positive sign that the Group is not looking to walk away from its 20% stake in the bank any time soon.
 
Thanks for your support, and we hope to see you at the conference.

With best wishes,

The Save Our Bank team.