Barclays bags Goldfish for £36m

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Barclays HAS bought the Goldfish credit card business from Discover Financial Services of the US for a knock-down price of $70m (£36m).

Britain's biggest credit card lender will get 1.7 million accounts with about $4bn (£2.1bn) of customer borrowings in the cash deal.

Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclaycard, said yesterday: "Goldfish has similar credit characteristics to our existing UK business. The combination provides an attractive opportunity to deploy our expertise across a larger number of cards and customers."

Discover was spun off by Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, in June. Morgan Stanley bought Goldfish from Lloyds TSB for $1.7bn in 2006.

Goldfish has not been good for Discover. The UK business posted losses in 2006 and 2007 as bad debts mounted. The US company said it would take charges of $190m to $210m in the first quarter of this year. It wrote down$391m of goodwill for the business before tax in the fourth quarter.

Discover said the deal would free capital that it could use in its US business, and that it would get out of the UK after the deal closed by the end of May.

Barclays is understood to have bought the business in an opportunistic move. It did not say whether it would keep the Goldfish name or wrap the operation into its Barclaycard brand.