Shares in Bradford & Bingley closed at a record low yesterday as the bank was downgraded two notches to one level above junk status. News that the embattled buy-to-let mortgage lender had extricated itself from having to buy £1bn of unwanted mortgage assets next year came after the market closed, too late to prevent the shares sliding 12% to 24p.

Fitch Ratings downgraded the bank from BBB+ to BBB-, the lowest of ten investment-grade rankings. Any further downgrade would class it 'speculative grade', or junk - an unflattering label for a deposit-taking institution. Standard & Poor's also downgraded B&B's short-term counterparty rating from A-2 to A-3. Constraints on the bank had increased materially in recent days, it said.

The Times