NBNK Investments plc is expected to renew its pursuit for Lloyds Banking Group Plc's (LYG: Quote, LLOY.L) 632 retail bank branches, with a 1.5 billion pounds bid to be announced as early as Monday, reports said.
NBNK's chief executive Gary Hoffman is expected to make the offer, the same amount as it did three months ago when it lost out to the Co-Operative Group.
Lloyds said in December 2011 that it was in exclusive talks with Co-Operative Bank plc to sell these branches, which are on the block as mandated by the European Commission. The company was expected to provide an update on the development in the first quarter.
But the sale, code-named Verde, had to pass the muster of UK regulators, who are expected to scrutinize the financial soundness, board expertise, and business plan of the Co-Operative Group.
The bailed-out lender said last week that it would provide a further update in the second quarter, adding that it remains on track to complete the transfer of the Verde business before the end of 2013 in line with the EC mandated timescale.
The Financial Services Authority is said to be concerned about the Co-Operative Group's ability to run such a large and complex business and wants efficient managers on its board. The company is yet to find a replacement for Neville Richardson, who left as chief executive of its banking business.
NBNK is an investment vehicle focusing on acquisitions in the banking and wealth-management sector. Its offer proposes that Lloyds separate the branches and list them as a different company. Shareholders in Lloyds will have the option to choose new shares of the company or cash from NBNK.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Lloyds remains in exclusive talks with the Co-Operative Group.
Lloyds is pruning its non-core assets to improve its financial standing and has reduced assets by 53 billion pounds last year. It has also sought buyers for loans, mostly a legacy of the takeover of HBOS in 2008.
LLOY.L closed on Friday at 35.97 pence, up 0.72 pence or 2.06 percent, on a volume of 153.9 million shares.
by RTT Staff Writer
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