The Evening Standard is reporting that Lloyds Banking Group, the owner of Lloyds TSB and HBoS, has been approached by private equity magnate Edmund Truell hoping to buy Scottish Widows, the life assurance, pensions and savings business.
Truell has joined his brother Danny to launch an investment vehicle called Tungsten, which is intended to target "good, sustainable financial services companies" in Europe. Scottish Widows would fit the bil Analysts predict that if a sale occured, the value of the company would be between £5bn and £6bn, but neither Lloyds nor Truell are commenting on the rumours.
Lloyds, which is 40 per cent owned by the taxpayer after it and HBOS were bailed out in 2008, is also having seperate problems selling-off 630 branches under orders from European Commission ordered. The requirement came about because of the company's receipt of state aid, but last week it ended discussions with the Co-op, which had previously been the frontrunner to take control of the branches. It is widely believed that the Co-op dropped out of the running because owning that many branches would have fourced it to fundamentally reconfigure its corporate structure to become much more finance-focused.
Doubts are already being raised over the veracity of the take-over rumours, however. Alphaville points out Truell's questionable history, and suggests that the muttering could be just a handy piece of PR for Tungsten, rather than a serious bid.