THE NEWLY MERGED Halifax and Bank of Scotland are to unleash an offensive against the Big Four clearing banks by launching a major recruitment drive in the field of banking for small businesses.
The undertaking came as shares in the enlarged pounds 30bn bank, known as HBoS, began to trade this morning on the Stock Market based on Halifax's closing price on Friday of 831p. Due to the high number of private investors who held Halifax shares, the new bank will have the largest retail shareholder backing in the country.
HBoS plans to recruit near to 500 staff for 100 branches in England and Wales to try to drum up new small business customers. Bank of Scotland already provides banking services for business customers, and controls 30 per cent of the Scottish market, but Halifax, a building society until four years ago, has never done so. Small business banking has traditionally been the domain of NatWest, now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC.
One of the main reasons the HBoS merger was waved through by the competition authorities was due to the likelihood it would provide the strongest competition to date in the …