NAB is meeting investors this month to discuss a listing of its Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, Sky News understands.
National Australia Bank (NAB) is beginning to court investors ahead of a possible flotation of its UK operations, intensifying competition for capital amid a slew of listings of British lenders.
Sky News understands that NAB has organised a series of so-called 'pilot-fishing' meetings with institutions for this month as it prepares to offload its Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank subsidiaries.
The discussions underline the extent to which NAB is considering a listing of its UK business even as several rivals prepare similar public market transactions.
NAB, which is Australia's fourth-biggest bank by market value, has been examining an exit from the Clydesdale and Yorkshire for several years but has struggled to find an external buyer prepared to match its valuation.
In January, it announced the appointment of David Duffy, the highly regarded boss of Allied Irish Banks, as its new chief executive.
Mr Duffy has yet to take up his role but is expected to do so shortly.
Despite only being the eighth-biggest bank in Britain, NAB UK has been caught up to a significant degree in the scandal over the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, forking out hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation.
It has also been hampered by poor property lending and a hefty bill for mis-selling interest rate hedging products.
Last October, NAB's group chief executive Andrew Thorburn said its "clear focus" was on its operations in Australia and New Zealan and that "in relation to exiting UK banking...we are now examining a broader range of options including those provided by public markets".
A number of private equity firms are continuing to explore possible offers for the Clydesdale and Yorkshire, while competitors such as TSB are also being touted as potential bidders.
The preliminary meetings with City investors come amid the flotation of Aldermore, the details of which were revealed by Sky News last week, and an imminent announcement from rival Shawbrook.
Lloyds Banking Group is expected to resume selling shares in TSB in the coming weeks, while the Government is also continuing to dispose of chunks of its remaining 24% stake in Lloyds itself.
On Thursday, another recently listed challenger bank, Virgin Money, will publish its maiden set of annual results since going public.
An NAB UK spokesman said it did not comment "on speculation or market rumour".Author: Mark Kleinman, City EditorSource: new.sky.com
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