Lloyds TSB and diversified UK energy utility Centrica are to launch a new telephone and Internet banking operation under the Goldfish brand.
The joint venture agreement has been made between evolvebank.com, Lloyds TSB's pan-European standalone Internet bank and Goldfish, Centrica's financial services unit. Centrica will have a 70% share of the new entity and Lloyds TSB 30 per cent.
The new venture puts a question mark over Lloyds' plans to launch the evolvebank brand in the UK. The stand-alone bank has so far opened in Spain only. Questions also hang over the acqusition costs of the Goldfish customer base - generated via a joint venture between Centrica and HFC Bank.
Despite the doubts, Roy Gardner, chief executive of Centrica, remains bullish. He says: "Our joint venture will combine the best elements of Internet banking, telebanking and integrated money management to create a leading edge financial services proposition for UK customers."
He says evolvebank.com will bring to the alliance technology and banking expertise, together with Lloyds TSB's bancassurance and regulatory experience. Centrica will bring the Goldfish credit card base and brand, together with immediate access to nine million Centrica customers.
The Goldfish credit card base, currently one million customers, will ultimately transfer to the joint venture. The new bank - which is to open at an unspecified date in 2001 - will be accessible either online or via the telephone, and current account customers will have access to ATMs for cash withdrawals.
Centrica and Lloyds TSB says the new bank will manufacture its own banking products, including current and savings accounts. Other products, including life and general insurance, will either be manufactured or sourced from third parties, with Lloyds TSB products playing a leading role.
Peter Ellwood, chief executive of Lloyds TSB, says the aim is to create one of the leading direct banks in the UK. "The joint venture gives us access to Centrica's extensive customer franchise and combines evolvebank.com's technology with the power of the Goldfish brand."
Centrica has 18 million British Gas customers, 10.9 million AA roadside customers, 1.7 million AA insurance customers and one million Goldfish credit card customers.