C&G future uncertain as Lloyds stalls

City A.M. Reporter
LLOYDS Banking Group said yesterday it was reviewing a decision to close all branches of its Cheltenham &amp; Gloucester (C&amp;G) unit, surprising employees and investors.<br /><br />Lloyds Banking Group, 43 per cent owned by the government, had said in June that the 164-branch network of C&amp;G, which specialises in mortgages and savings, would be closed in November as part of a shake-up of its loan operations.<br /><br />The bank declined to say more on the reason behind the move, and gave no details on a possible timescale for the review.<br />Some 833 full-time workers would have been cut as a result of the closure.<br /><br />They will now remain in place while the bank considers its options.<br /><br />&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s announcement comes with no warning and will make the workforce wonder whether their bosses have any long-term strategy for the future of the bank,&rdquo; said Rob MacGregor at Unite, one of the unions representing C&amp;G employees.<br /><br />Unite has demanded an urgent meeting with Lloyds to clarify &ldquo;the format and timescales of the review&rdquo;.<br /><br />Lloyds said in a brief statement that &ldquo;customers will continue to use the C&amp;G network as usual.&rdquo;<br /><br />Shares in Lloyds, already higher after an earlier upgrade from analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland, gained further ground in afternoon trade on hopes the review could mean a sale of C&amp;G &ndash; appeasing potential EU concerns over its market share and raising much-needed cash for the loss-making bank.<br /><br />Lloyds shares were up two per cent at 98.72p, against a virtually flat FTSE 100.