High street mortgage bank Abbey National is in negotiation with private investment firm Apax Partners to sell a 20% holding in its new internet bank cahoot.com.

Apax, whose bid to buy then carve-up Rover Cars was thwarted earlier this year, is said to have an understanding of e-commerce as well as several billions of loose change abrading its pocket linings, thereby fulfilling Abbey's two key criteria for a partner.

Abbey, which has already spent £31 million on cahoot during the start-up’s first six months, is planning to invest a further £20m in the second half. It is not expected to emerge from the red before 2003 and, according to The Times, Abbey is eager to lay-off the funding during the current period of disenchantment with dotcom stocks.

Launched in June, cahoot attracted 31,000 customers in month one and is now adding a like number week-by-week.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)