James Moore: More disposals could help in the pursuit of Mammon

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The Independent Online

Can the light of God's investors shine a light on project Rainbow? The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is an advocate of new banks bringing a little verve to the market.

Could Rainbow, and the similarly colourfully named Verde, which are respectively being spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, provide the competitive spark it is badly lacking?

Given the Archbishop's beliefs, it is perhaps no surprise that the Church Commissioners, which oversee the CoE's £5.2bn of investments, have blessed one of the City factions pursuing Rainbow.

Made up of just over 300 branches, Rainbow is actually, to push the ecclesiastical metaphor even further, the resurrection of the old Williams & Glyn's. Spurned by Santander, it has become the belle of the ball because pension funds and private-equity firms have woken up to the potential value in these "new" companies.

Getting into bed with one of the factions of Mammon could still be a risky move for the Church, especially if Rainbow's light is dimmed by some of the bad practice for which a largely unreconstructed industry is renowned.

But even if the Commissioners' prayers for a successful bid go unanswered they may yet get a second bit at the cherry (or apple) if George Osborne and the OFT decide to force more disposals on RBS and perhaps Lloyds. Thanks in part to the Archbishop there's a strong political wind blowing in that direction.