Preferred bidder status has been granted to The Co-operative Group within the process of purchasing the branch assets of the Lloyds Banking Group.
The lender has announced today (29 March) that it is now in the driving seat when it comes to buying Lloyds' intelligent finance and TSB arms, as well as 632 of its branches.
However, the Co-op went on to insist it is still by no means certain that a transaction will be finalised, as a price for the deal is yet to be agreed while it would also require approval from the relevant regulatory authorities.
Peter Marks, group chief executive at the bank, said this potential move forms part of its strategy to drive the organisation forwards in the aftermath of the recession through "building upon our strong foundations in banking".
But, he added: "Clearly our bid for the assets is non-binding and we would only proceed if we could reach an agreement that was in the interests of our members and other stakeholders."
By Asim Shah