Barclays eyes Standard Life banking arm

BARCLAYS is set to enter exclusive talks which could see it snap up Standard Life&rsquo;s banking division, after rival suitors walked away.<br /><br />The bank, led by chief executive John Varley, is expected to be granted exclusivity by the insurer later this week after it expressed strong interest in the arm, which has been valued at between &pound;200m and &pound;300m. <br /><br />The division, which made a profit of &pound;9.5m last year, is based in Glasgow and employs 300 staff. <br /><br />Barclays is expected to retain the banking division&rsquo;s Scottish headquarters if it proceeds with the acquisition. <br /><br />Standard Life has faced pressure from shareholders to sell the banking division and finance director David Nish is leading the sale. <br /><br />The firm, led by Sir Sandy Crombie, has been urged to offload non-core assets as part of its response to the recession. <br /><br />The banking arm holds savings and mortgages worth &pound;14.3bn, which appeal to Barclays due to their high quality. <br /><br />Barclays has emerged from the financial crisis in relatively strong shape and has made a series of acquisitions over the past year, including credit card business Goldfish.