J Sainsbury Plc could reach a deal to offload its banking services arm to Centerbridge Partners within weeks, according to an unidentified source cited by Sky News.
The British supermarket chain is in advanced talks with the New York-based private equity firm over the sale of Sainsbury’s Bank Plc. Sainsbury invited potential suitors to submit bids in December, retaining UBS Group AG to run the formal sales process, Bloomberg previously reported.A spokesperson for Sainsbury declined to comment on the report.
Sainsbury’s Bank was originally established in 1997 as a joint venture between the retailer and Bank of Scotland, now a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group Plc. Sainsbury bought out Lloyds’s 50% share in 2014 to take full control of the bank.
According to an unnamed analyst cited by Sky, the business could be worth about 200 million pounds ($275 million). Sainsbury is one of the U.K.’s biggest supermarket groups, competing head on with the likes of Tesco Plc, which has faced questions about its own foray into financial services.
Last month, Tesco said it would close all its customers’ current accounts, the U.K. version of a checking account. This followed a decision by the grocer two years earlier to sell its entire mortgage lending book.
Sainsbury itself is the subject of speculation about a potential takeover. Shares in the company rose 15% on Monday after a report in The Times newspaper that private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc. is considering a bid of more than 7 billion pounds for the supermarket chain.
Peer Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc is currently the subject of a multibillion-pound takeover battle that has pitted private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC against Fortress Group for control of the grocer. The company’s board backed an increased offer from CD&R that valued it at $9.5 billion.
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