Not by much, admittedly, but big boy Barclays is buying the UK business of ING Direct, which in its decade of operation here has collected 1.5m customers, been a regular presence in "best buy" tables and has generally added some diversity to the financial services jungle.
Actually, "buying" is the wrong word since Barclays is, in effect, being paid to take the business away. It is getting the £5.6bn mortgage book at a discount of 3% and the £10.9bn of savings at par value. ING will record a €320m (£258m) loss on the deal and Barclays gets an instant, if small, boost to its return on capital.
Smart work, then, by new Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins – the numbers look good and he's on familiar territory since his bank in recent years has also mopped up Egg, created by the Prudential in the go-go dotcom years, and Standard Life Bank.
Barclays says it intends to honour terms and conditions for ING Direct customers. That's welcome but it's still a shame to see the Dutch throw in the towel: in the long-run, competition probably will not be enhanced.
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