Lloyds sells Halifax estate agents for £1

16 October 2009

Lloyds Banking Group has sold loss-making Halifax Estate Agency for just £1 to the parent company of Your Move. 

LSL Property Services will rebrand Halifax's 218 estate agent branches as Your Move, Reeds Rains and InterCounty. The sale comes after a strategic review by Lloyds, which has been keen to offload the division as it was considered a distraction from the main banking business.

The review concluded that the estate agency operation was "no longer integral to its business model".

However, the effect on its earnings is not expected to be material. The bank, which is 43% owned by the taxpayer, is considering selling a string of assets as it looks to scale back its presence on the high street.

This comes as part of plans to appease European competition officials who want to ensure that the financial lifelines received from the government will not give the bank an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

As part of the transaction, 121 Halifax banking counters located within estate agents offices will also be shut.

The deal is expected to go through in January 2010, subject to the approval of LSL shareholders who will meet next month. This will make FTSE Small Cap listed LSL the second largest estate agency network in the UK.

Around 460 full and part-time jobs will be lost from Halifax in the move. This takes the total of jobs cut so far this year to more than 8,000.

More disposals could soon be on the cards, analysts say. The bank could also sell off parts of Scottish Widows or its Clerical Medical business. It has also said it could offload some of its investment management assets, including Bank of Scotland Portfolio Management Services, to Rathbone Brothers.

Back in August, Lloyds agreed to sell Insight Investment Management to Bank of New York Mellon for £235 million.

Lloyds shares rose 3.5% to 94.49p while shares in LSL lifted 5% to 275p.

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