Shares in independent ATM operator Cardpoint have been suspended while the firm negotiates the acquisition of 800 cash machines from HBOS.
The banking group - formed from the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland - has confirmed that it is in talks over a £40 million deal with an independent operator to offload a quarter of the machines in its national ATM network.
Shares in Cardpoint were suspended yesterday at 136.5 pence. The vendor says the HBOS deal will be structured as a reverse takeover and funded through a placing. If successful, it would raise the number of machines in Cardpoint's ATM estate to just over 2800, putting it ahead of rival outfit Moneybox.
The move to sell the machines has been slammed by the Consumers Association, which has raised the prospect of more bank customers being forced to pay charges to access their cash.
A CA spokesman said: "Customers stand to lose out. At the moment, HBOS does not charge customers to use ATMs. With this, it is likely to change. It could be as much as £1.50 to £2. If customers do not have access to a branch then it will be detrimental because they will not have a choice."
Sainsbury's Bank has already sought to capitalise on the move, announcing plans to add 235 machines to its national network while issuing dire warnings about the rising numbers of fee-charging ATMs.