Belfast Telegraph

Private equity firms poised for TSB

Private equity firms are reportedly circling TSB Bank as owner Lloyds Banking Group primes it for a stock market flotation next year.

The part-nationalised lender has received a number of approaches from buyout firms including US-based group JC Flowers, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Lloyds launched the TSB as a standalone entity earlier this month, after a deal to sell the 631 branches to the Co-operative Group collapsed.

The Co-op, which spans funerals to supermarkets, pulled out of the deal in April after uncovering a £1.5 billion black hole in its balance sheet.

That forced Lloyds, now 33% state-owned after the Government sold £3.2 billion of its shares last week, to revert to a costly initial public offering (IPO) plan for the bank.

Lloyds is being forced by Europe to sell the branches, previously dubbed Project Verde, as a condition of its £20 billion bailout at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008.

TSB is now Britain's eighth-largest high street bank after reappearing as a standalone brand for the first time since 1995, when it merged with Lloyds.

Headed by chief executive Paul Pester, the bank has more than 4.6 million customers and 8,000 employees. It has major offices in Birmingham, Gloucester, Edinburgh, London and Bristol, and call centres in Swansea, Sunderland, Edinburgh and Gloucester.

A Lloyds spokesman told the newspaper: "We are pursuing an IPO but are open to any offer that would give greater value or certainty."

Lloyds could not immediately be reached for comment. JC Flowers declined to comment.

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