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Co-Op Bank losses narrow on branch closures, staff cuts

By Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Co-operative Bank reported a narrower loss for the first six months of 2014 after axing jobs and closing branches following a restructuring that saw it fall under the control of bondholders.

The bank reported a pretax loss of 75.8 million pounds ($126 million), compared with an 844.6 million pound loss in the same period the previous year.

Britain's seventh-biggest lender, which has 4.7 million customers, came close to collapse last year after a 1.5 billion pound capital shortfall was exposed. A recapitalization saw the Co-operative Group's ownership of the bank fall to 20 percent.

The bank said on Friday it had cut its payroll by 21 percent in the past year to 5,860 and closed 46 branches, reducing its branch network by 16 percent since the start of the year. Another 25 branches will close in the fourth quarter, it said.

"By the measures of capital and liquidity the bank is considerably stronger than it was a year ago," Chief Executive Niall Booker said in a statement on Friday.

"We are ahead of schedule in the disposal of non-coreassets and have improved governance, particularly at board level. However, the issues we continue to face in building a sustainable business are deep rooted and there remains much to be done."

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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