NBNK goes on offensive for Lloyds branches

NBNK Investments has leapt back into the fray by sending in a new bid for 632 Lloyds branches, as the deal to sell them to the Co-op appears close to collapse.

The bid, which values the package of assets at between £1.5bn and £2bn, is designed to make Lloyds think twice about continuing with its struggle to offload the business to the Co-op. The mutual has come under fire for not yet having a chief executive or experienced management team in place to run the bank, although the Co-op Group insists it has a plan for finding a CEO.

In its bid, NBNK, which recruited former Northern Rock chief executive Gary Hoffman as its boss and has Lord Levene as chairman, boasted that it “has considerable regulatory, governance and management experience” to get the deal done. One senior banking source called it “a board to die for”.

It offered to do the transaction as a demerger 100 per cent underwritten by NBNK, which is backed by institutions that include Invesco, Aviva, JP Morgan, F&C and BlackRock.

The offer means that the shareholders of Lloyds, 40 per cent of which is owned by taxpayers, could either take cash or shares in the new venture.

If the Co-op deal collapses, however, Lloyds could continue preparing its branches for a flotation alongside negotiations with NBNK because setting up a self-standing payments system will be required either way. NBNK said that it has FIS on board to help it do this.

Lloyds is still in exclusive negotiations with the Co-op but is close to a final deadline for closing the deal.