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Lloyds seeks Insight bids

LLOYDS Banking Group is understood to be seeking bidders for Insight, the asset management group it acquired as part of the takeover of HBOS, as it continues efforts to rid itself of troublesome assets.<br /><br />Deutsche Bank, which advises HBOS, has been sounding out fund managers about the possibility of buying the unit, sources said yesterday, alerting acquisition-hungry firms to the possibility of buying the division at a knockdown price.<br /><br />Cowdery&rsquo;s acquisition vehicle Resolution could emerge as a contender for Insight, after a spokesman said that the firm was looking at purchases in asset management.<br /><br />F&amp;C asset management and Jon Moulton&rsquo;s private equity house Alchemy Partners are also likely to be interested, Justin Urquhart-Stewart of Seven Investment Management said yesterday.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a buyer&rsquo;s market out there for anyone who has the capital,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />&ldquo;The returns Lloyds is making on Insight won&rsquo;t be great so it may well be motivated to sell,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />Lloyds signalled in the prospectus for its recent &pound;4bn share placing that it may be forced by the European Commission to dispose of assets in exchange for approval of the state aid it has already received.<br /><br />The bank has already begun to exit the integrated finance portfolio it inherited from HBOS, closing the division to new business and with Insight proving another burdensome business, the bank could accept a bargain price for the unit.<br /><br />Meanwhile, investors with Lloyds have until Friday&rsquo;s annual meeting to sign up to the bank&rsquo;s share placing or risk seeing their holdings diluted. Protest votes are expected against the re-election of chairman Sir Victor Blank and other directors, as well as against chief executive Eric Daniels&rsquo; remuneration package.