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In Play Today: Co-op Bank potential sale; Intrum makes bid for Cerved debt unit

Europe

* Co-operative Bank PLC's U.S. hedge fund investors reportedly mandated Goldman Sachs Group to initiate discussions with interested parties regarding a potential sale of the U.K. bank. Prospective buyers include Barclays PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Lloyds Banking Group PLC, with a formal sale process expected to begin during the course of 2020.

* La Poste SA unit La Banque Postale SA is evaluating a potential bid for HSBC Holdings PLC's retail operations in France as part of its diversification plans. An auction process for HSBC's French retail business is scheduled to launch in 2020, according to a Reuters report.

* Swedish debt collector Intrum AB (publ), through its Italian arm, submitted a cash offer for Cerved Group SpA's debt management division, which could be worth roughly €400 million, insiders told Reuters.

* Commerzbank AG reportedly expects to receive initial offers for Polish unit mBank SA from PKO Bank Polski SA and a consortium comprising of Polish insurer Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń SA and unit Bank Pekao SA by mid-January 2020. Other entities likely to launch initial bids include, Austria-based Erste Group Bank AG and France's Crédit Agricole SA. ING Groep NV unit ING Bank Śląski SA and Banco Santander SA unit Santander Bank Polska SA have also expressed an interest of taking part in the bidding, while BNP Paribas SA unit BNP Paribas Bank Polska SA did not rule out submitting an offer.

* The Serbian state received three binding bids in the second phase of a tender to sell its 83.23% stake in Komercijalna banka a.d. Beograd. The bids were reportedly from Serbia-based AIK Banka a.d. Beograd, Slovenia's Nova Ljubljanska banka d.d. and Austria-based Raiffeisen Bank International AG.

* Nexi SpA's parent company, Mercury UK Holdco Ltd., is understood to have held discussions with SIA SpA for a potential merger of the two Italian payment companies. However, the talks have not gone gone beyond a preliminary stage.

* Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, or Helaba, will begin talks with DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale in January 2020 about forming a "powerful central institution" within Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, or German Savings Banks Association, with an integrated business model.

* Caser Seguros will evaluate two proposals from Ageas SA/NV and Helvetia Holding AG regarding a potential sale of the Spanish insurer at its Dec. 18 meeting, as the auction valuing the company at €1 billion reaches its final stages, insiders told Reuters. However, a final decision may not be made until January considering Caser Seguros' fragmented shareholder structure.

Ageas SA/NV* Commerzbank AG said the integration of comdirect bank AG into the group will now take place through a direct merger, after the deadline of its offer to acquire the remaining stake in the digital banking unit that it does not own yet expired Dec. 6. The German lender said it will offer comdirect's shareholders Commerzbank shares in exchange for comdirect shares, following approval by both companies.

* The three co-founders of JSC Commercial Bank Modulbank will sell their respective 7.5% stakes in the bank to Russian businessman Artem Avetisyan in December.

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