LLOYDS Banking Group has struck a deal to sell 632 branches to the Co-op Group.
This will transform the group into a powerful new rival to Britain's dominant high-street banks.
Mutually-owned Co-op said the sale would lift its share of Britain's bank branch network to 10pc from less than 4pc, equipping it to take on the country's big lenders -- HSBC, Barclays Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds itself.
"People have lost trust in the financial services sector. Now we can provide a big bank, a challenger bank, that people can really trust," Co-op Group CEO Peter Marks told reporters on a conference call.