MILAN, July 14 (Reuters) - Barclays has hired Lazard to sell its retail banking business in Italy as the British bank presses ahead with the sale of European assets, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
"Talks have started over the sale of the 90 branches and Lazard has been hired," the source said.
In May last year Barclays created a vehicle to group together risk-weighted assets worth around 115 billion pounds ($178 billion) which the bank plans to exit or wind down.
"Retail and corporate assets in Italy, Portugal, Spain and France were in there and stuff in Spain has already gone," the source said.
Last year Barclays sold its Spanish banking business to Caixabank in a deal worth around 800 million euros ($880 million).
Barclays and Lazard declined to comment.
The move by Barclays to sell Italian assets comes at a time when the Greek debt crisis is focusing investors on their exposure to euro zone peripheral countries.
This month Barclays fired chief executive Antony Jenkins after he lost the support of non-executive directors in a clash over style and the pace of the bank's turnaround.
($1 = 0.9086 euros)
$1 = 0.6467 pounds Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Jason Neely