The Co-operative group believes the bids undervalued its insurance arm. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Five questions answered on the Co-operative Group's decision not to sell its insurance business

How much is it said to be worth?

The Co-operative Group has announced that it will not to sell the general insurance arm of the business. We answer five questions on the group's decision.

Why has the Co-operative decided to pull out of selling the general insurance part of its business?

The group has reportedly decided it no longer needs the money the sale would have generated. It was originally initiating the sale to fill the bank's £1.6bn financial black hole. The Co-op management is said to have thought the bids they were offered undervalued the business, in light of its potential for growth.

How much is this side of the Co-op business said to be worth?

According to the Telegraph, analysts have valued its worth between £250m and £600m. Legal & General and private equity house AnaCap are believed to have made second-round bids.

What has the Co-operative said about its decision to halt the sale?

Co-operative’s chief executive Euan Sutherland, in a statement, said:

Having considered the sale process, and in light of the changed requirements on us under the Bank recapitalisation process, we believe it is in the best interests of our members, customers and colleagues, that we retain this strong business and develop it further.

What were the Co-operative's original plans before it decided to cancel the sale?

Originally, the group had planned to part with the business in March 2013, in a bid to boost the Co-op Bank’s capital position. The life insurance arm of the group, which was sold to Royal London for £219 million, and the general insurance arm, were intended to be used to safeguard the future of the bank.

The discovery of a £1.5bn capital shortfall at the bank last summer intensified the need for capital. Under the original recapitalisation plans, the bank was due to find part of £1bn with £500m from bondholders. However, the groups funding needs reduced from £1bn to £462m after a redrafting of those plans in November resulted in distressed debt funds opted to inject a greater amount of funding.

What other changes is the group making in a bid to get its finances in order?

Over the weekend, the Telegraph reported that the Co-op Group will cut its £850 annual donations to the Labour Party. Lord Myners, who is carrying out a review of the group's corporate governance and relationship with third parties, told the newspaper: "The scale of giving to others cannot go unaffected by the change in the Co-op’s economics.”

“It’s got less money to spend on everything,” he added.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn hammers David Cameron on green energy – but skips Syria

In a low-key exchange ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Labour leader covered two areas where the government is vulnerable: renewable energy and women's refuges. However, he failed to mention Syria and the Russian plane shot down by Turkey.

When PMQs precedes an Autumn Statement or Budget it is usually a low-key affair, and this one was no different. But perhaps for different reasons than the usual – the opposition pulling its punches to give room for hammering the government on the economy, and the Prime Minister saving big announcements and boasts for his Chancellor.

No, Jeremy Corbyn's decision to hold off on the main issue of the day – air strikes in Syria and the Russian military jet shot down by Turkey – was tactical. He chose to question the government on two areas where it is vulnerable: green energy and women's refuges closing due to cuts. Both topics on which the Tories should be ashamed of their record.

This also allowed him to avoid the subject that is tearing the Middle East – and the Labour party – apart: how to tackle Isis in Syria. Corbyn is seen as soft on defence and has been criticised for being too sympathetic to Russia, so silence on both the subject of air strikes and the Russian plane was his best option.

The only problem with this approach is that the government's most pressing current concern was left to the SNP leader Angus Robertson, who asked the Prime Minister about the dangers of action from the air alone in Syria. A situation that frames Labour as on the fringe of debates about foreign and defence policy. Luckily for Corbyn, this won't really matter as no one pays attention to PMQs pre-Autumn Statement.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.