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New British venture eyes state-rescued bank assets

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A new venture is being launched to compete for acquiring retail banking assets bought by the British government at the height of the financial crisis, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

The venture, expected to soon start trading on the stock market as a cash shell, will be chaired by Peter Levene, who is due to step down as chairman of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market next year, the paper said.

It added that while the venture had identified a number of small banks for purchase, it ultimately hopes for a larger acquisition such as nationalised bank Northern Rock or 600 branches to be sold by the lender Lloyds.

“There is room for a trusted retail bank,” the FT quoted one investor in the new venture as saying. “The long-term returns from the sector have been excellent. The big high street names will have to divest assets and the business model should be simple enough.”

London, July 9, 2010 (AFP)