NBNK and Co-op in final round of Lloyds auction

NEW British bank venture NBNK and the mutually owned Co-operative Group have been short-listed by Lloyds as prospective buyers of the 630 retail bank branches which it has been told to sell, sources with knowledge of the situation said.

Lloyds said yesterday that it had received three formal offers for the assets and had decided to take forward discussions with two bidders, in a process that the part-nationalised British bank has code-named “Project Verde”.

Lloyds did not identify who those bidders were, but sources said that they were NBNK and Co-op’s financial services arm.

Sources have also said that the assets could be worth between £1bn and £1.5bn.

Lloyds has been forced to sell the branches by European competition regulators to compensate for it having been bailed out by the British government during the credit crisis.