Slater Walker was a British industrial conglomerate turned bank, specialising in corporate raids that got into financial difficulties in the 1970s. It shook the British banking system at the time, and had to be bailed out by the Bank of England after it was unable to refinance its debt during the secondary banking crisis of 1973-74, forcing its founder Jim Slater to quit.
In 1964, investor Jim Slater acquired control of H Lotery & Co Ltd, a £1.5m public company, which with his business partner Peter Walker - later a Conservative MP - they renamed Slater Walker Securities. The company performed what became known as corporate raids on public mainly industrial companies, At its peak, capitalized at over £200 million, the company held deposits totalling £95m, managed £250m of funds and looked after 29,000 pensions. It had grown to be not only a bank but also an investment and insurance empire with stakes in industrial companies. It had acquired Dutch investment bank Kempen & Co in 1972 which became its international division.
Slater Walker then changed strategy, from a corporate-conglomerate into what eventually was recognised as an unauthorised and unlicensed international investment bank, through gradually disposal of its industrial interests.
In 1974, it got into financial difficulty after having trouble refinancing its debt during the secondary banking crisis of 1973–75. By 1975 the problems led to its having to be supported by the Bank of England.
In 1975, the Singapore Government investigated what became known as the Spydar affair, into dealings in a Far East Slater Walker company which resulted in Richard Tarling, the company's sole director, ending up in Changi prison. Slater subsequently resigned as Chairman in October 1975, because the Singapore Government began to try to extradite him from the UK for alleged offences by the company in Singapore.
Following the takeover of the company by the Bank of England in 1976, Jimmy Goldsmith replaced Slater which caused consternation in the UK government, where the new boss was regarded with as much suspicion as the old:
|“||I am surprised to see Mr Goldsmith appointed chief executive,’ wrote one civil servant. ‘He is hardly a noted banking figure and indeed, his reputation, as far as the general public is concerned, is that of a playboy and speculator.||”|
15 charges were brought against Slater for offences against the Companies Act by the Department of Trade, referring to the alleged misuse of more than £4 million of company funds in share deals. The case brought by HM Treasury and the Singapore Government was thrown out in 1977.
In 1979, Slater was charged and convicted on 15 counts under Section 54 of the Companies Act 1948; all related to loans made to affiliated companies for buying stock in the Slater Walker group. He was fined £15 on each charge.
The business was subsequently renamed Britannia Arrow. After the purchase of INVESCO and Montagu Investment Management, the company was renamed INVESCO MIM in 1990. (The MIM was later dropped). After a merger with AIM Investments, the company was renamed Amvescap.
- "'Read this and weep': lessons not learned from Slater Walker". The Spectator. February 10, 2010.
- How Harold Wilson stepped in over Slater Walker debacle
- The provision of financial assistance to Slater Walker Bank in 1975
- HM Treasury
- "Slater Walker now Britannia". The Glasgow Herald. 1977-07-08. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
- Chernoff, Joel (1994-07-25). "INVESCO'S U.K. BUSINESS HIT HARD". Pensions & Investments. Retrieved 2014-10-08.