The Co-operative Bank is in talks with Unity Trust board to sell its 26.7% stake in the UK-based specialist bank.

The move by Co-operative Bank is to simplify and realign its business with retail and small business customers. The deal also forced Unity Trust to review its ownership structure.

The Co-operative Bank CEO, Niall Booker, said they have been a proud supporter of Unity Trust over many years and will work closely with them through this process, which fits with their own business plan to simplify the bank.

The individual trade unions and trade union federations that own the remaining 73% stake in Unity Trust have the rights to purchase any shares sold by Co-operative Bank.

Unity Trust chair, Graham Bennett, said they are starting to have detailed discussions with their respective shareholders as part of their wider work to reposition the bank as they approach their 30th anniversary.

"The Co-operative Bank has been a fantastic supporter of Unity Trust since it was first founded, however, the time is now right to review our structure as we begin the next chapter of Unity’s development underpinned by our distinct approach to banking," Bennett added.

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Since established in 1984, Unity Trust’s 26.7% shares are owned by the Co-operative Bank.