A Bolton high street bank could be set to become part of a newly merged “ethical banking” group.

This comes after reports of a merger between the Co-operative Bank and the West Midlands based Coventry Building Society.

The Co-operative Bank has a branch on Knowsley Street and Cllr Richard Silvester, who represents the town centre area on Bolton Council, says the move could prove to be hugely beneficial.

Cllr Silvester, of the Queens Park and Central ward, said: “I would be very pleased if the merger talks were successful.

“As a Co-operative Party Councillor, I have supported the Co-operative Bank through its ups and downs, in good times and bad including when it was sold by the Co-operative Group, and it has always maintained its ethical banking policy.

The Bolton News: The Co-operative Bank on Knowsley Street, BoltonThe Co-operative Bank on Knowsley Street, Bolton (Image: Google Maps)

“It started off life as a bank being owned by its members under mutual status and if this merger with the Coventry went through, it would mean that yet again it would have mutual status and would no longer be owned by hedge fund corporations as at present.

“That has to be good news and the Coventry Building Society has a good reputation and is also ethically responsible so I believe that the two financial organisations have a lot in common and the merger would make sense.

“As a Co-operative Party Councillor, I support mutual organisations which are owned by their members so I hope the merger will occur and that the Bolton branch will be retained as it has been in our town centre for decades.”

The merger bid comes after speculation this year about potential bidders for the Co-operative Bank.

It is no longer part of the wider Co-operative Group after parting ways in 2017 when it fell into financial difficulty.

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It is now owned by a group of private equity investors including US-based JC Flowers and Bain Capital Credit who bought a stake in 2021.

But merging with the Coventry Building Society could see it brought back to a membership ownership structure.

A Co-operative Bank spokesperson said: “There is no certainty that these exclusive discussions will result in a transaction.”

A spokesperson for Coventry said a deal would only take place “if it is determined by the society’s board to be in the best interests of current and future members.”