The great British bank sell-off

“A British bank is run with precision,” said Mr Banks, but Mary Poppins might need more than a spoonful of sugar to help this latest raft of banking news go down.

Let’s start with Lloyds, seeing as the high street bank has snaffled more than its share of column inches in recent weeks. The bank’s new general counsel Hugh Pugsley is in for a baptism of fire after the bank yesterday announced it is in the first stages of re-privatisation via the UK’s second-biggest share placing ever. It has raised a massive £3.2bn from the sale of a 6 per cent take in Lloyds Banking Group.

Then there’s RBS. The European Commission has forced the bank to sell its small business banking operation, consisting of 315 branches serving 250,000 small businesses and 2m retail customers. RBS has won some sideways glances after being choosy about its acquirers.

However these banks’ futures pan out, it looks as if Slaughter and May corporate partner Nilufer von Bismarck who led the firm in advising the Treasury on the break up of both, is in for a busy time.

Not to be left out, the Co-op has its own troubles. The Co-op Group is desperately trying to salvage what it can of Co-op Bank, attempting to force £500m of losses on owners of £1.3bn of bonds and preference shares. Brown Rudnick and Allen & Overy are advising its 15,000 or so bondholders, in their campaign against the bank that could see them losing £500m.

One thing’s for sure – after a jolly holiday, banking lawyers have been welcomed back with a bang.

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