Co-operative shakes up banking market. Is conveyancing next?

In a deal worth £750m the Co-operative Group is set to grow to nearly 1000 branches.

The move sees the acquisition of Verde, TSB and Cheltenham & Gloucester brands, in what the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston described as “the deal of the millennium”.

Lloyds and Co-op agreed commercial terms in June and announced last week Co-op will pay an initial £350m for the Project Verde business and up to £400m based on the performance of Co-op’s combined banking business until 2027.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of November 2013 and will make the Co-op the sixth biggest player in the market.

Lloyds’ were forced to sell the branches by European regulators after Lloyds was part nationalised in 2009.

Lloyds’ group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said: “We believe the Co-operative Group will be a good owner for our business, customers and colleagues, and the combined banking business will be a significant competitor on the high street with nearly 10 per cent of today’s UK branch network.”

The deals come after the Co-op was confirmed as one of the first three ABSs to be licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, with its legal arm now set to offer services previously reserved for solicitors.

Having converted to an ABS the Co-op recently confirmed its intention to roll out its legal services offering to all of its existing 330 high street outlets following a successful pilot of the scheme last year.

So what will this announcement mean for the conveyancing market?

With a limited conveyancing offering already in place will the Co-operative look to exploit their increased captive audience?

Will the plans to roll out legal services now extend to 1000 branches?

A spokesman for Co-operative said: “Although our ABS licence will enable Co-operative Legal Services to widen its conveyancing offer, we have not developed our thinking on this at the present time.

“It is far too early to say what impact the Verde acquisition will have on our legal services offering in bank branches.”

For the moment it seems, we will have to wait and see.

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