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Bank of Ireland looking at offers for Bristol & West branch network

Bank of Ireland is looking at the sale of the non-mortgage elements of Bristol & West with plans to shed B&W’s 97 UK branches.

In a review of its UK businesses, BoI says it has had interest in the branch network and deposit base. It is believed that Alliance & Leicester could be interested in buying the network. BoI paid 600m for B&W in 1997. The book value is now understood to be around 80m.

Bristol & West stresses that only 8 per cent of its sales are through its branches, with most of its sales through IFAs.

Bank of Ireland will continue to focus in the UK on business banking, mortgages and consumer banking. Mortgage business through intermediaries would not be affected by a sell-off and would remain under the BoI umbrella.

Bank of Ireland media relations manager Anne Matthews says: “We have received a number of expressions of interest and we will be evaluating these. We have not accepted any offers.”

Alliance & Leicester director of corporate communications Stuart Hawkins says: “We never comment on market rumours.”

Bank of Ireland is expecting mortgage lending growth of 9 per cent and business lending growth of 18 per cent in 2005.

In a trading update, the bank also confirms that it will be cutting a total of 2,100 jobs as part of its drive to save 83.27m by 2009. It is expected that 400 jobs will be lost in the UK.

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