UNCERTAINTY surrounds the future of MBNA’s Chester-based European headquarters after owners Bank of America announced their intention to ‘exit’ the credit card business in the UK and Ireland.
The implications are unclear for the 4,000 staff at Chester Business Park although Cheshire West and Chester Council understands the European card business will be sold to another finance house as ‘a going concern’.
Among the many community ventures sponsored by MBNA are Chester FC and Chestival with concerns about how the funding gap will be met in future.
As part of the same announcement, Bank of America also revealed it has agreed to sell its credit card business in Canada to TD Bank Group. The move follows an agreement to sell the Spanish card business.
Chief executive Officer Brian Moynihan said: "While the credit card remains a fundamental core product for our US customers, an international consumer card business under another brand is not consistent with that strategy."
Council leader Mike Jones responded to news of major changes at Chester’s largest private employer.
He said: "MBNA has been a wonderful friend and true partner to both Chester and this authority, backing a host of cultural, sporting and community events.
"Whoever buys their business will certainly have a hard act to follow and we must hope that they will be willing to make the same massive contribution to our local community.
He added: "It is a profitable business operating out of high-quality accommodation with cutting edge technology – an attractive proposition for investment."
Chief executive Steve Robinson said: "We will be extremely sad to lose this company, which has become a real part of Chester since it arrived 18 years ago. It will surely be remembered for a long time for the leading role it has played in the life of the city.
"We are, of course, are prepared to do everything possible to welcome the new owners and support them to maintain current levels of employment."