HSBC has sounded out investors about a flotation of its U.K. arm, in a move that would realize value from its high street banking business and address regulatory pressures.
The bank has in recent weeks asked investors whether they would support the sale of a sizable stake in the U.K. business. It has also discussed the issue informally at board level, according to three people familiar with the project.
(Read more: Roll up, roll up: UK banks are up for sale)
If Stuart Gulliver, HSBC's chief executive, presses ahead with the plan, it will partially reverse the group's landmark acquisition of the U.K.'s Midland Bank more than 20 years ago. That deal helped HSBC to become Britain's the fourth biggest high-street operator after Lloyds, RBS and Barclays.
Thinking is at an early stage, according to those involved, but the plan would be likely to involve the listing of a minority stake of up to 30 per in the U.K. retail and commercial banking operation. Investors estimate that such a business could float with a market capitalization of about £20 billion ($33 billion).