Abbey National today confirmed it was in advanced talks to sell a business that provides mortgages to Britons looking to set up home in France.
The group – currently the subject of a takeover offer from Spanish bank Santander Central Hispano – is discussing the potential sale of Abbey National France with financial services group BNP Paribas.
The Abbey operation, which has around 26,000 customers and assets worth €2.1bn (£1.39bn), draws around a quarter of its business from Britons looking to purchase residential properties in France.
However, Abbey has been looking to sell the subsidiary as part of its drive to create a company solely focused on UK personal financial services.
It has already offloaded a range of global businesses, including an unsecured lending subsidiary in France in December, as part of a turnaround strategy unveiled by chief executive Luqman Arnold 18 months ago.
Abbey said it hoped to complete the sale of Abbey National France in October, although it added a deal still required regulatory and other approvals.
The business was established in 1990 and now boasts nine sales offices in locations including Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse and Bordeaux, and 219 staff.