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A branch of Lloyds TSB is seen surrounded by plants in London, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Lloyds Banking Banking Group says a mulitmillion pound deal to sell hundreds of branches to Co-operative Group has unraveled. Part-nationalized Lloyds had been ordered to sell part of its network to comply with the European Commission's terms for receiving a government bailout. The bank, which is 40 percent owned by taxpayers, said in a statement Wednesday that it will now pursue a stock market flotation for the branches.
A branch of Lloyds TSB is seen surrounded by plants in London, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Lloyds Banking Banking Group says a mulitmillion pound deal to sell hundreds of branches to Co-operative Group has unraveled. Part-nationalized Lloyds had been ordered to sell part of its network to comply with the European Commission's terms for receiving a government bailout. The bank, which is 40 percent owned by taxpayers, said in a statement Wednesday that it will now pursue a stock market flotation for the branches.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

CARL MORTISHED

Lloyds’ branches aren’t the future of banking

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Like all dream solutions, it turned out to be just that: a daydream. The good old Co-operative Bank, a venerable 130-year old Mancester-based lending institution, owned by its members, was to take over 632 bank branches from Lloyds Banking Group, the hideous conglomerate lender rescued by the British taxpayer four years ago. It was a heaven-sent opportunity for George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to boast that new competition was entering the hated banking sector, courtesy of a friendly society with an ethical investment policy. But after a year’s negotation, the Co-op has backed out of the deal, adding insult to the government’s injury by blaming the worsening state of the economy for its decision to reverse pedal on its expansion plans.