Private equity giants storm into MBNA credit card auction

Billy Bambrough
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Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500
MBNA is known for partnerships with sporting events and previously sponsored motor racing in the US (Source: Getty)

The auction of credit card giant MBNA is getting crowded as three of the world's biggest private equity firms prepare bids.

Cerberus, Cinven, and TPG are considering bidding for MBNA, potentially putting them up against high street banks Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Money who emerged as likely suitors last week.

MBNA has a 11 per cent market share of credit cards across the UK, giving it a loan book of around £7bn. The business is thought to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Read more: MBNA takes the helm on Thames Clippers

MBNA is currently owned by Bank of America, thought the bank has been looking to exit its non-domestic markets since the financial crisis and has already sold of the majority of its assets in Europe.

The auction is understood to be in its early stages, and is expected to take several months to complete.

Last week it was reported that Lloyds, which has a 15 per cent share of the credit card market, is thought to be interested in MBNA, as well as challenger bank Virgin Money, which has grown quickly since its IPO in November 2014.

It wouldn't be the first time Virgin Money has expressed interest in MBNA. In December of 2014 Virgin Money bought £363m of assets from MBNA.

Read more: Virgin Money reports 53 per cent jump in profit

News of the private equity firms' interest was first reported by Sky News.

MBNA, Cerberus, Cinven, and TPG all declined to comment.

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