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UK giants circle NAB’s Irish operations

UK giants circle NAB’s Irish operations

(2 November 2004 – Europe) Speculation is brewing that major British banks Lloyds TSB and HBOS are lining up bids for National Australia Bank’s Irish operations. London and Dublin media said the two banks were planning on tabling rival bids of somewhere between 1.5 to two billion euro for NAB’s Belfast based Northern Bank and the Dublin based National Irish Bank.

Other potential bidders including Irish Life & Permanent, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Ireland have withdrawn from the race because of NAB’s insistence the two banks are sold in a single package.

All bids are set to be submitted to NAB’s adviser Lazards by the middle of this week.

HBOS, which is many analysts’ tip to buy NAB’s Irish business, bought Equity Bank in 1989 and ICC in 1999, and has a strong business banking presence in the country.

However, analysts say HBOS is looking to improve its Irish retail business and the bank itself has expressed strong interest in growing its operations in Ireland.

NAB put its Irish business up for sale two weeks ago but has said it remains committed to its British business.
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