London The Royal Bank of Scotland, Northern Rock, and Lloyds Banking Group are to sell off as many as 700 branches in the next few years in exchange for the public aid they received during the economic meltdown, a government official told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The assets being put up for sale would be reserved for new entrants to the British banking market, effectively creating three new banks over the next five years or so, the official said.
The official said that the banks were in negotiations with Britain’s treasury and European regulators over how many assets they would have to give up in return for the help they received from taxpayers.
“Essentially, they are expected to have to divest — each of them — some of their branches,” he said.
As many as 700 branches could be sold off, the official said. That figure would include all of Northern Rock’s 100 or so branches, as well as chunks from the Lloyds Banking Group PLC’s approximately 3,000 branches and just more than 2,200 branches operated by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC.