HUGH Osmond, the entrepreneur behind Pizza Express, Punch Taverns and the insurance group Pearl, has emerged as a surprise potential bidder for Lloyds Banking Group’s 632 branches that are up for sale.
Sources close to Osmond say that he has been in discussion with Lloyds since the end of last year and is hopeful of going through to exclusive talks in the next few weeks.
His intention would be to raise money through a new bidding vehicle. His manifesto will include the desire to create a “back to basics” bank that would deliver basic products such as mortgages.
Osmond’s team do not know yet what value to put on its bid. “Lloyds has to separate the branches from the current business first,” a source said yesterday.
Osmond has joined NBNK and the Co-Op Financial Services in making an indicative bid.