One of Chester’s largest employers is under new ownership after a major takeover deal was completed on Thursday.
Credit card firm MBNA, home to a workforce of 1,700 at Chester Business Park, has been sold to Lloyds Banking Group for £1.9bn.
MBNA’s headquarters were included in the deal, underlining a commitment by Lloyds to staying in Chester, but there has been a change at the top, with MBNA chief executive Ian O’Doherty to leave after 25 years’ service.
When asked what impact the takeover would have on the Chester workforce as a whole, a spokesperson for Lloyds said it was “too early in the process” to speculate on any further changes.
Meetings were held with staff yesterday to discuss the implications of the deal, which was announced in December but only rubber-stamped yesterday after receiving regulatory and competition approvals.
Lloyd’s had previously spoken of the move being a “significant opportunity for cost synergies” which would help them save £100m a year within two years, sparking fears of job losses.
Both firms insisted it was “business as usual” yesterday.
António Horta-Osório, group chief executive of the UK-owned Lloyds bank, said: “The MBNA brand and portfolio are a good fit with our existing card business and we will focus on providing its customers with excellent service and value.
“Our proven integration capabilities and low cost-to-income ratio will deliver significant synergies and value to our shareholders.”
Mr O’Doherty will leave at the end of the month – MBNA said it was a “personal decision” – and his duties will be taken over by current chief finance officer Elyn Corfield, who is to assume the role of managing director.
The rest of the management team remains in place and the MBNA name will stay the same, rather than be re-branded.
Staff were informed of the news via email yesterday before going into meetings for updates.
Mark Elliott, director of corporate affairs at MBNA, said Chester would remain an “important site” for the group.
The MBNA foundation, which supports good causes in the area, will remain and existing sponsorship deals – such as those for Chester FC and Storyhouse – would be unaffected.
MBNA’s commitment to Chester FC is “unwavering”, Mr Elliott added.
MBNA opened its European HQ in Chester in 1993, employing just 72 staff.
It grew into one of the most recognisable credit card brands and was bought by Bank of America in 2005.
See full story in the Chester Leader