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August 4, 2010    

RBS confirms Williams & Glyn’s sale to Santander

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by Kay Murchie
RBS confirms Williams & Glyn’s sale to Santander

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has confirmed it will sell the 318 Williams & Glyn’s network of branches to Spanish banking giant, Santander for £1.65 billion.

The majority of the branches are in the North West and will be turned into Santander banks, with the process expected to be completed by December 2011.

Commenting on the deal, RBS chief executive Stephen Hester, said: “This is an important milestone in our restructuring work and complements the significant momentum behind our recovery plan overall.”

The deal has been expected for some time as it was rumoured that Santander was the only bidder for the 318 branches.

The Spanish bank was 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.

Meanwhile, 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 Williams & Glyn’s network had to be 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.

In related news, RBS, which is 83% owned by the taxpayer, is set to report its half-year results on Friday and is forecast to show a return to profitability.

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