Activist ups its stakes in bid to sue Lloyds Bank

Oliver Smith
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ACTIVIST investor Crystal Amber will reportedly up its stake in NBNK Investments, the vehicle which lost out during the auction of Lloyds Bank’s 630 branches in 2012, in a move to pursue legal action against the bank.

NBNK has lined up law firm Stewarts Law to take legal action against Lloyds, which chose the Co-operative Group as a favoured buyer, despite claims that NBNK offered greater value for shareholders, according to Sky News.

Aim-listed Crystal Amber is set to acquire Aviva Investors’ 10.5 per cent stake in NBNK, raising Amber’s total holdings to 17 per cent and giving it additional weight in pushing the board to sue Lloyds over the 2012 branches sale.

NBNK, which is chaired by William Collins, the former Barings private client banker, spent £30m of the £50m it raised from City institutions in its unsuccessful bid for the Lloyds branches network.

Amber describes itself as an activist fund that “takes stakes in undervalued companies and taking action to enhance value.”

NBNK has another activist investor, American Wilbur Ross, who owns a 29.9 per cent stake and has been vocal in stating he would like to use the vehicle to buy up UK bank assets.

The Co-op’s takeover of the branch network failed after the deal collapsed last year amid the Co-op’s financial crisis.

Lloyds recently confirmed that it would float the unsold branches under the TSB name over the coming weeks. NBNK has a market capitalisation of nearly £17m with its share price closing up 1.6 per cent yesterday at 31.5p per share.