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Three banks get EU approval

City A.M. Reporter
Plans by three major European banks to sell chunks of their operations in return for state aid were approved by EU authorities yesterday, marking the latest regulatory-enforced financial break-ups.<br /><br />In reviewing a raft of bank bailouts across the 27 European Union member states, the European Commission has forced lenders to divest assets, close branches, reduce market share and temporarily stop paying dividends.<br /><br />The EU executive yesterday approved restructuring plans for lender Lloyds Banking Group, Dutch bancassurer ING&nbsp; and Belgian banking and insurance group KBC.<br /><br />Both Lloyds and ING had weeks earlier announced their split-ups to appease EU competition concerns.<br /><br />&ldquo;This plan effectively addresses the Commission&rsquo;s competition concerns and at the same time ensures the return of Lloyds Banking Group to long term viability,&rdquo; said European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.<br /><br />She added the restructuring of the three banks would return them to long-term viability.<br /><br />The Commission said there was a sufficient degree of market interest in the assets to be sold by the banks.<br /><br />Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury Paul Myners said: &ldquo;The government&rsquo;s decisive action to support Lloyds and other banks protected the savings of millions of families and the jobs of thousands. <br /><br />With the bank now on a more secure footing, we can begin work to make sure Lloyds plays its part in reforming and repairing the banking system for the future. The divestments Lloyds will make following today&rsquo;s approval will lead to a shake-up of the UK retail banking market.&rdquo;