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Co-op Bank sale plan attracts suitors

Co-op Bank Branch Image copyright Getty Images

The Co-operative Bank has said a number of "credible" potential buyers have expressed interest since it put itself up for sale last month.

It added, however, that there could be "no certainty that an offer for the bank will be made".

The bank, in which the Co-operative Group still has a small stake, was rescued from the brink of collapse by a group of hedge funds in 2013.

Earlier this month, it reported its fifth annual loss in a row.

The loss for 2016 was £477m, which represented an improvement on the £610m loss recorded in 2015.

The bank was forced to offer itself for sale after it was unable to reach a strong enough footing to satisfy the Bank of England's regulatory requirements.

It blamed low interest rates and the higher-than-expected cost of its turnaround plan for its failure to meet the Bank's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) rules.

Under supervision

In a statement issued on Friday, the bank said: "A number of credible strategic and financial parties have expressed interest in the sale process and are currently evaluating information on the bank.

"The bank has requested that preliminary expressions of interest should be submitted in the first half of April."

The Co-op Bank has four million customers and is well known for its ethical standpoint, which its board said made it "a strong franchise with significant potential" to prospective buyers.

On Thursday, it emerged that the Bank of England had placed the Co-op Bank under "intensive supervision" as survival options for the ethically-based lender dwindle.

The BBC understands contingency plans to ensure the "orderly failure" of the 150-year-old bank are well advanced.

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