London: Lloyds Banking Group’s new chief executive is to speed up the disposal of assets the British lender is being forced to sell by European competition authorities, including 600 branches.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, on his first day as CEO, also launched a strategic review meaning the part-nationalised bank will not announce further branch closures until the end of the year.

Lloyds was told in November 2009 it had to sell 4.6 percent of the personal current (or checking) account market and 19 percent of its mortgage book.

Assets on the block include Cheltenham & Gloucester mortgages, the TSB brand, branches of Lloyds TSB in Scotland and some in England, and Intelligent Finance, which analysts have said could be worth over £3 billion ($4.9 billion).

The bank estimated the businesses to be sold contributed about £500 million of pretax profit in 2008 and generated income of about 1.4 billion.

Lloyds is 41% owned by Britain after being bailed out during the credit crisis when it was saddled with billions of pounds of losses from its takeover of troubled rival HBOS in 2008, a deal brokered by the Labour government of the time.