The Co-operative Bank is in discussions with Unity Trust about potentially selling its 26.7% stake in the social bank. The move follows a review into the ownership structure at Unity Bank and restructuring plans announced by the Co-op.
Unity Trust is a specialist bank for civil society, social enterprises, councils and trade unions. The Co-operative has owned a shareholding in it since it was founded in 1984.
Graham Bennett, chair of Unity Trust, said, “We are starting to have detailed discussions with our respective shareholders as part of our wider work to reposition the bank as we approach our 30th anniversary.
“The Co-operative Bank has been a fantastic supporter of Unity since it was first founded. However, the time is now right to review our structure as we begin the next chapter of Unity’s development underpinned by our distinct approach to banking.”
The discussions are still in their early stages and any decision on a changed ownership will need to be approved by the regulator. The individual trade unions and union federations, which own 73.2% of the shares in Unity Trust Bank, also have certain pre-emption rights and are engaged in the process.
Michelle Creaney, head of customer strategy at Unity Trust, added, “The services that the Co-operative Bank currently provide will remain in place and customers should see no difference to business as usual.
“Over the longer term however as Unity moves to a more independent model, this will allow us to source services from across the whole financial services industry ensuring we continue to provide the high levels of customer satisfaction for which we are known.”
Unity Trust, one of the leading socially responsible banks in the UK, last year it rewarded staff that had worked at the bank for a year with ownership shares. It also became the first British bank to receive Living Wage employer accreditation.