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Giant US bank poised for move into UK loan arena

The fourth-biggest bank in the US is planning to enter the UK mortgage market, with four other investment banks also lining up moves.

Wachovia Securities, which has over 13 million customers in the US, is considering moving into the UK mortgage and unsecured loans market either through acquisition or by building its own proposition.

It will specifically target the sub-prime and non-conforming homeloan sector via intermediaries, adding to the commercial mortgage operation it is building. A spokesman says: “We will be looking at mortgages, sub-prime, non-conforming as well as consumer loans and credit cards.”

Four other banking giants, ABN Amro, Dresdner Kleinwort, JP Morgan and UBS, have all been tipped as next to enter the market. A source says the quartet, along with Wachovia, are looking at lenders in the market either to acquire or set up partnerships. UBS already runs a broking operation for its high-net-worth clients.

Big-name investment banks already in the sector include Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Close Brothers.

ABN, Dresdner, JP Morgan and UBS refused to comment on the speculation.

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