Centrica has paid HFC Bank £85 million for the rights to one million Goldfish credit card holders. The move ends a legal stand-off between the erstwhile partners and paves the way for the establishment of a new direct banking venture between the UK energy operator and Lloyds TSB.
Centrica was told by a court in June that HFC could retain customer details when the pair end their Goldfish joint venture agreement next month. The court ruling was a blow to Centrica, which in December last year announced an alliance with Lloyds TSB to create a standalone Internet and telephone banking operation under the Goldfish brand.
The alliance was to combine Lloyds TSB's bancassurance expertise and technology from its defunct eveolvebank.com venture with Centrica's Goldfish credit card base and brand, plus access to nine million Centrica customers.
HFC's objections and subsequent legal victory has proved a worrisome and costly complication for Centrica, which has already agreed to a £650 million fee for the Goldfish business receivables. The energy group says that the end of the dispute puts its original banking strategy back on track.
Under the blueprint outlined in December, the new bank is to be accessible either online or via the telephone, and current account customers will have access to Lloyds TSB ATMs for cash withdrawals. It's intended that the new operation will manufacture its own banking products, including current and savings accounts. Other products, such as life and general insurance, will either be manufactured or sourced from third parties, with Lloyds TSB products playing a leading role.