Kroes repeats need for Lloyds to sell divisions

LLOYDS Banking Group will need to dispose of assets in areas where it is currently dominant as a condition of EU approval of state aid, the European Commission&rsquo;s top competition watchdog warned yesterday.<br /><br />Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, who has repeatedly warned that part-nationalised banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland will be forced to shrink, said Lloyds must not be allowed to dominate the UK banking marketplace.<br /><br />&ldquo;We need to ensure aid does not allow the bank to consolidate and reinforce its leading presence in markets in which it is already concentrated to the detriment of consumers,&rdquo; she told the European parliament.<br /><br />Kroes and her team are currently assessing restructuring plans submitted by Lloyds to determine what measures the bank must take.<br /><br />It has been suggested that the bank could be forced to dispose of the Halifax business it acquired with the takeover of HBOS last year.<br /><br />However, Brussels mandarins are believed to have backed away from the demand, which senior Lloyds executives feel would be unacceptable, given that Halifax is one of the few healthy units acquired from the former HBOS group.