NAB playing hard to get with Lloyds bidder NBNK

NATIONAL Australia Bank (NAB) has slapped down suggestions that it could rush headlong into a deal with NBNK Investments, the buy-out vehicle led by Gary Hoffman and Lord Levene.

NAB is in talks with NBNK over selling its UK business – the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks – but yesterday insisted that it is in no hurry to do so.

A director of the bank told an Australian newspaper that although it has been in talks, “nothing has changed” since before NBNK suspended its shares due to the discussions, and suggested that there is unlikely to be an imminent deal.

The timing is sensitive because NBNK is also a bidder for the 632 branches that Lloyds is selling, with the second bid deadline just over a week away.

The Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) has stated that it would prefer to see the branches sold to a buyer who will be able to have at least six per cent of the personal current account (PCA) market.

NBNK would either need to ensure that Lloyds beefs up its PCA offering or would need to combine the branches with NAB’s UK business in order to cross that threshold.

However, the ICB’s recommendation has yet to directly affect the sale.