About 4,000 jobs are at risk after Bank of America decided to exit its credit card business in the UK and Ireland. The division, known as MBNA, employs about 3,500 people at its site in Chester, and 500 people in Ireland. It boasts one of the largest portfolios in Europe, with more $19bn (£12bn) in credit card loans.
Along with the MBNA brand, the business also issues own-brand cards for the likes of Ryanair and Liverpool Football Club. "While the credit card remains a fundamental core product for our US customers, an international consumer card business under another brand is not consistent with that strategy," Bank of America's chief executive, Brian Moynihan, said.
The move follows the decision by the North Carolina-based bank to sell its Spanish and Canadian credit card operations. TD Bank will buy the Canadian arm, while the private equity firm Apollo Capital Management has agreed to buy the Spanish business.
Bank of America also sold off its $200m portfolio of small business card loans to Barclays in April.
The lender said it would "be seeking to bring certainty" to the UK and Irish employees "by identifying an appropriate solution as quickly as possible".
"We are in the early stages of the process and our ultimate decision will be based on what is in the best interest of our shareholders, employees, customers and partners," a spokesman said, adding that "in the meantime, it is business as usual".