HSBC, RBS and Barclays see rich pickings in Morgan Stanley credit cards

18 April 2005
Three of the Big Four British banks are reported to be circling Morgan Stanley's Discover credit card unit.

Reuters reports that the UK trio are planning to express an interest in acquiring Discover, the seventh largest credit card issuer in the US, in order to create a separate company valued by analysts in excess of $10 billion.

"It's an invitation to people like HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland to take a look at the business," an source in the investment banking sector indicated. "The question is not if but when they approach Morgan Stanley."

Keefe Bruyette & Woods banking analyst Mark Thomas echoed the assertion. "Would they [the British banks] strategically be interested? Absolutely," he stated.

Discover has about 50 million customers and outstanding loans worth $48 million.

Britain's three biggest banks have all bought US credit card businesses in the last two years, attracted by high economic growth, flexible labour markets and a fragmented banking market in the US.


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