The Co-operative Bank opened itself up for sale, inviting offers to buy all of its shares.

The bank is one of the UK’s biggest high street lenders and has four million customers, but said its ability to meet longer-term UK bank regulatory capital requirements had been limited due to low interest rates.

The high street lender has failed to make a profit since 2011, and announced the sale at its annual planning review.

“The board is commencing a sale process, something always considered a potential outcome of the turnaround plan, alongside considering other options to build capital and meet the longer-term capital requirements applicable to all UK banks,” the bank said in a statement.

The Co-op bank nearly collapsed in 2013 after a £1.5 billion black hole was discovered in its finances. The loss-making lender was bailed out by US hedge funds who are its majority controllers.

The bank’s chairman, Dennis Holt, said: “We are now commencing a sale process, alongside other options.”

“The bank’s ethical heritage and customer proposition will be a central consideration.”


The bank’s former chief executive, Barry Tootell, was banned from holding senior jobs in the sector for life last year by the Bank of England, after prioritising profit at the expense of stability when the lender came close to collapse.

It was the first time British regulators have barred a former bank CEO.