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Lloyds shoots down Scottish Widows rumours

Lloyds Banking Group has rebutted claims that the founder of private equity firm Duke Street has approached the bank with a multi-billion pound offer for Scottish Widows.

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Lloyds Banking Group has rebutted claims that the founder of private equity firm Duke Street has approached the bank with a multi-billion pound offer for Scottish Widows.

A report in the Evening Standard yesterday claimed that Edmund Truell, who set up Duke Street before walking away in 2005, had offered to buy the life assurance business from Lloyds for around £5bn (€6.1bn). 

But the part-nationalised bank has denied the rumour, saying that it has no plans to sell Scottish Widows. Lloyds could not be reached for comment. 

Truell is set to list a £500m acquisition vehicle named Tungsten on the stock market. Any deal with Lloyds, even if syndicated with co-investors, would be unlikely given the size of the fund.

Tungsten aims to buy up financial services businesses in Europe, seen as a lucrative opportunity as banks and insurers look to trim balance sheets and raise liquidity. 

Lloyds has been trying to sell assets, including 630 retail bank branches the European Commission ordered it to offload since its bail-out by the UK government agreed at the end of 2008. 

The branch sale, dubbed Project Verde, has lost steam since an exclusivity agreement with the Co-operative Group broke down last week.

Lord Levene’s NBNK bid vehicle has shown interest and Lloyds has opened up the sale again now that the Co-op has gone cold on the deal.