BANK of America has decided not to sell its Chester-based MBNA Europe credit card operation.
But the consequences for the 3,000-plus workforce at Chester Business Park are unclear.
Bank of America has declined to comment on ‘market speculation’ but sources in the US and the UK have confirmed the bank has withdrawn its credit card business from sale.
Bank of America had been in talks about its European arm since last August and shed 400 jobs as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme in October.
Virgin Money, which has a 50-50 joint venture with MBNA, was recently reported to be close to sealing a deal to buy part of the business.
It was also reported Barclaycard could snap up the remaining £6.5bn of MBNA’s portfolio.
But the respected Wall Street Journal has now reported that MBNA will no longer be sold which is consistent with information from UK finance sources supplied to The Chronicle.
It isn’t clear why the sale has been abandoned, although one report claims new capital requirements by regulators had made the credit-card business less attractive to potential buyers.
Neither Cheshire West and Chester Council nor Steve Broomhead, chairman of Chester Renaissance, who formed a task group of key decision-makers to work with the bank over the sale, had been made aware of any developments.
Unwilling to speculate on the potential consequences for jobs, Mr Broomhead said: “If it is off, there are very financially challenging conditions in the market place.”
On a positive note, he said 40 jobs had been created at MBNA’s new global technology and operations centre at its Chester base, which is expected to generate up to 1,000 jobs.