Why can’t Wirral Council refinance £44,500,000 in LOBO loans and why are 6 other councils suing the lender?
Earlier this year I made a FOI request to Wirral Council for a copy of a long running objection that has remained unresolved for years made by a local elector in relation to LOBO (Lender Option, Borrower Option) loans made to Wirral Council.
After an internal review (Wirral Council first claimed that to release the information would be unlawful), Wirral Council disclosed the nature of the objection made.
In response to a different FOI request (not made by myself in 2015) Wirral Council disclosed that it had entered into long term LOBO loans with Barclays Bank PLC of £18,500,000 + £4,000,000 + £6,000,000 + £10,000,000 + £6,000,000 (which is a total of £44,500,000).
Detailed responses to the person who made the objection by Wirral Council’s auditor Grant Thornton have been accompanied by a covering letter threatening the objector with criminal sanctions if Grant Thornton’s letters are shared with third parties (except for legal advisers).
Earlier this year a number of councils and a combined authority (Leeds City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Newcastle City Council, North East Lincolnshire Council, Nottingham City Council, Oldham Council and Sheffield Council) started legal action against Barclays Bank PLC in relation to LOBO loans made by Barclays Bank PLC to those public bodies. The Particulars of Claim details the complex reasons behind this.
Wirral Council is unable to use cheaper sources of borrowing at lower interest rates than the LOBO loans to replace the LOBO loans (interest rates paid on its LOBO loans range from 4.68% to as high as 9.18%) as if it did so it would have to pay in addition to the outstanding capital on the loan a “breakage cost” to the lender equivalent to what the lender would have received in interest had the loan not been ended early. As the LOBO loans Wirral Council have with Barclays Bank PLC have maturity dates in 2078, 2065, 2055, 2054 and 2052 this means this extra “breakage cost” can amount to nearly the size of the original loan.
The only option Wirral Council has to end the loan early without having to make this extra “breakage cost” on top of the original loan value is if the lender suggests a higher interest rate which Wirral Council rejects. However in the current financial climate lenders are highly unlikely to do this as the lenders would make more profit on the loan by allowing it to continue at the existing interest rate.
I have tried to write the above in reasonably plain English, unlike Wirral Council who include in the current draft of the 2018-19 accounts:
If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.