Barclays has been exploring a potential acquisition of Tesco's banking operations, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The British food retailer has asked prospective buyers to submit non-binding offers for Tesco Bank by the end of the week, as part of efforts to shrink its financial services footprint, one of the people said.
Barclays has already made an indicative bid, this person said, adding that it is particularly interested in Tesco Bank's credit card and saving account products.
Other bidders are expected, people with knowledge of the process said.
There is no certainty that a transaction will materialise, the people said.
Tesco's banking operations could be attractive to other lenders because of the opportunity to cross-sell banking products to the grocer's customer base, the first two people said.
But tough market conditions risk denting the appetite of potential buyers, one of them said.
Barclays declined to comment. Tesco Plc and Tesco Bank declined to comment.
It could not be established how much the proposed deal would value the Tesco Bank assets.
Tesco Bank raked in £57 million in pre-tax profits in the six months to 31 August, 2023 and had a book value of close to £1.5 billion at the end of the period.
For Barclays, such an acquisition would beef up its domestic retail bank at a time when the group is striving to revive its share price. Barclays shares are down about 10% since the start of the year.
Earlier this year, Barclays completed the acquisition of specialist mortgage lender Kensington Mortgages.
Tesco Bank was launched in 1997 as a joint venture between the British supermarket group and Royal Bank of Scotland, with Tesco later taking full control of the company.
Despite seeing it as a growth area in the past, Tesco has been scaling back its banking services, including no longer offering current accounts and offloading its mortgage portfolio to Lloyds Banking Group.