Banking sector faces wide-ranging review by finance watchdog

The Guardian:

Britain’s big four high street banks could be forced to break up after the competition watchdog signalled its intention to launch a sweeping investigation into the UK’s £10bn-a-year banking business.

Setting out its proposals for an 18-month inquiry, the new Competition and Markets Authority has gone further than its predecessors, who said they would wait until 2015 before considering such a move.

The big four – the two bailed-out banks, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, along with HSBC and Barclays – control 77% of current accounts and 85% of small business accounts. These market shares are little changed despite 10 investigations in the last 15 years.