UKFI unveils long shortlist for lucrative bank sale

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JP MORGAN Cazenove has been hired to provide the UK government with strategic advice on the privatisation of Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland.

It is also among 37 banks, brokers and other advisers shortlisted for a number of advisory roles announced by the body which holds the taxpayers’ stakes in the bailed out banks.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI) confirmed the successful bidders in the most hotly contested beauty parade for investment bankers for some years. They qualify for one or more of four roles in what is formally known as the Framework for Specialist Financial Services.

UKFI sought to avoid perception that JP Morgan’s appointment was a conflict of interest and insisted that the bank’s appointment “does not involve any commitment in relation to other roles”. It said it will review the bank’s role “with the expectation that different firms may be used in this role in the future”.

The 37 firms shortlisted for the lucrative work include almost all major advisers in Wall Street and the City of London with the exception of RBS itself.

However, the shortlist does include ABN Amro, the bank now owned by the Dutch state. Its former owner, Fortis, had to be nationalised after it joined forces with RBS in the ill-fated deal to split up and take over the Dutch lender in 2007.

It is thought the length of the list indicates UKFI’s preference to “keep its options open” on which investment bank was able to bid for work to sell its 80.5 per cent stake in RBS and 39 per cent holding in Lloyds.

UKFI stated that Jim O’Neil, its chief executive who will be leaving to take a job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, had “recused himself” from the procurement process to avoid any “perception of a conflict of interest” as the bank qualified for two of the lots.