UK Grocer Sainsbury’s Says It Has Offers For Banking Unit

U.K. supermarket Sainsbury’s said it has been approached by numerous potential suitors for its banking business, Sainsbury’s Bank, according to a report from Express and Star.

The news comes after a lengthy period of speculation over what would happen with the banking unit, the report stated. Last week, it was reported that NatWest Group, formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland, was interested.

And, the bank said it is also in “preliminary discussions” with a financial sponsor for a non-binding offer, according to Express and Star. The bank had “recently attracted an approach from a financial sponsor” that had knowledge and experience with European financial services investments, and that the possibility of selling the bank or the holding company had been discussed.

But the report said nothing has been decided for sure yet.

“We have received some very preliminary expressions of interest in the bank, but this does not mean anything will come of these discussions,” Sainsbury’s said, according to Express and Star.

Sainsbury’s said the company is still looking at its five-year plan and wants to focus on delivering a profit for the second half of the year in spite of the setbacks of the pandemic, the report stated.

Sainsbury’s earlier this month announced it would be cutting 3,000 jobs as England heads into a second lockdown amid surging cases of the virus, PYMNTS reported. The company said most of the layoffs would be coming from the Argos business, which Sainsbury’s bought in 2016 for 1.4 billion pounds (about $1.9 billion). Amid the layoffs, CEO Simon Roberts announced he would be forgoing any year-end bonus.

“As we go into lockdown in England for the second time this year and restrictions are in place across the U.K., we know our customers and colleagues are feeling anxious and we will do all we can to support them,” Roberts said.

Sainsbury’s is planning to open 150 more Argos stores by 2024, along with 150 to 200 more Argos collection points.

The second U.K. lockdown has caused other layoffs, including those at merchant John Lewis.