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June 18, 2010    

Santander submits offer to buy RBS branches

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by Kay Murchie

Spanish bank giant Santander has today confirmed it has submitted an offer to buy Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) Williams & Glyn’s network of branches.

The deal will give Santander approximately 1,645 branches, or 12% of the market, and cement its status as the second largest mortgage loan provider.

The Spanish bank already has a major UK presence after acquiring Abbey for £9.5 billion back in 2004.

In July 2008, it rescued troubled mortgage lender, Alliance & Leicester, and a few months later, it took ownership of Bradford & Bingley’s savings business and branch network.

The bank is understood to be the only bidder for the 318 Williams & Glyn’s branches and it has been the frontrunner for the branch network for some time now, as it is believed to be one of the few bidders with enough resources.

When the process commenced, there were several potential bidders, including Virgin Money (part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group), National Australia Bank and a joint bid from US buyout firm, Blackstone, and UK medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust.

The Williams & Glyn’s network is being sold under the orders of the European Commission as a punishment of the billions of pounds in state aid that RBS received by the Government.

Williams & Glyn’s disappeared as a brand from the High Street 24 years ago but it has been maintained as a legal entity that files accounts at Companies House.

Its history dates back to 1753 and was the RBS branch network in England before its acquisition of NatWest at the start of the millennium.

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