Sainsbury's ends talks on sale of banking operation

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Sainsbury’s has called off the potential sale of its banking operation after concluding that talks with suitors had failed to result in an offer that would be good value for shareholders.

Britain’s second biggest supermarket chain, which started a potential sale process after receiving expressions of interest last November, said it had formally ended talks with all interested parties.

Related: All Sainsbury’s stores to stay shut on Boxing Day as a ‘thank you’ to staff

“While the board of Sainsbury’s believe that it was in the best interests of shareholders to explore these expressions of interest, it has concluded that these do not offer better value for shareholders than will be realised through retaining Sainsbury’s Bank,” the company said. “Accordingly, all such discussions have now ended.”

The potential sale of the banking operation, which has about 2 million customers and offers products including credit cards and home insurance, had drawn interest from the high street banking group NatWest as well as the US private equity group Centerbridge Partners.

Sainsbury’s said it intended to continue to focus on simplifying the banking operation and “remains comfortable” with profit forecasts for the division.

“We continue to make progress strengthening and simplifying our financial services business in line with our strategy,” the company said.

Sainsbury’s said the bank was on track to make operating profits of £26m in the current financial year, growing to £43m in 2022-2023 and £49m in 2023-2024.

Sainsbury’s Bank was originally established in 1997 as a joint-venture with the Bank of Scotland, which is now part of Lloyds Banking Group. In 2013, Sainsbury’s moved to take full control of the business in a £260m deal.

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, sold its mortgage portfolio to Lloyds Banking Group two years ago and is closing all personal current accounts this year.

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