Metro Bank investors back $1.15 billion rescue plan

LONDON (Reuters) -Investors in British lender Metro Bank on Monday backed a 925 million pound ($1.15 billion) rescue package for the bank that hands majority control to its biggest shareholder, Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski.

Metro Bank struck a funding deal last month that included a 325 million pound capital raise and 600 million pound debt refinancing, after urgent weekend talks to secure its future.

The package – which entails a hit for its backers – was approved by more than 90% of shareholder votes cast on Monday, the company said. It had already secured bondholder support last month.

Separately, Sky News reported that Barclays was in exclusive talks to buy a 3 billion pound mortgage book from Metro. Both Barclays and Metro declined to comment on the report.

Metro previously said it was exploring a sale of mortgage assets as part of efforts to bolster its balance sheet.

The bank’s shares were up 6.5% at 1455 GMT.

Metro was launched in 2010 to challenge the dominance of Britain’s big lenders, but hit a string of setbacks in recent years, such as accounting errors, leadership departures and delayed regulatory approval for key capital relief plans.

Metro said in a statement that the shareholder vote showed support for its business model and it intended to open more branches in the north of England over the next two years.

Gilinski-owned Spaldy Investments will become a controlling shareholder once the transaction is completed, with a stake of 53%.

($1 = 0.8025 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Iain Withers and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Kirsten Donovan)