Now that Midland Bank has regained its self-respect with the new driving force of chairman Sir Peter Walters and chief executive Brian Pearse behind it, the market is hot with rumours as to its next move. Some of the more interesting talk pairs Midland up with a "soul sister" - the likewise profit-battered, predator-vulnerable Legal and General, which has common ground with the bank in that it also has a new chief executive in the form of David Prosser.
It was last said that Midland might team up with the BAT-owned Allied Dunbar and secure a steady income stream by selling life assurance to Midland customers. That initiative is understood to have foundered because of a dispute over the controlling shareholding. Now Legal and General is shifting into the spotlight.
As the fourth largest UK insurance company, with a stated aim to improve its marketing and to reduce its non-life assurance exposure, Legal and General looks a prime candidate for such collaboration. L and G has a large direct sales force of 3,000 or, if preferred, the expertise to pass on to Midland's existing salesforce. L and G may not be the final candidate, but Pearse undoubtedly knows that Midland has to keep up its momentum and, of all the banks, can least afford to lag behind in exploiting its network.