Lloyds Banking Group is considering whether to float its 632 retail branches as it struggles to attract a strong enough bid for the portfolio.
According to the FT, NBNK is under pressure to raise its current £1.5bn offer for the branches, while other prospective bidders, such as the Co-operative, are yet to do launch a formal bid.
Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio has until November 2013 to sell the Project Verde business, which includes about £46bn of loans and 6 per cent of current account market. The sale is being made by Lloyds to comply with European state aid rules.
It is understood that the bank believes floating the business in 2013 could attract a better price.
The Co-operative Group bid is thought to be some weeks away from making a bid as the firm is struggling to value the Lloyds assets and funding costs in the current market volatility, while NBNK is also preparing a bid for Northern Rock. NBNK chief executive Gary Hoffman is expected to make a bid for Northern Rock this week. The FT says he would only agree to buy the bank if NBNK is successful in the Lloyds auction.