Nick Goodway - It’s personal: echoes of a heady past in battle for branches of RBS

W&G’s chairman claims it is the only ‘real bid’ in town

Williams & Glyn’s, which I recall as one of the most respectable banking institutions of my youth, is set to return to our  high streets.

Three bidders have put proposals to Royal Bank of Scotland to acquire or part-acquire the 315 branches RBS has been ordered by the European authorities to sell because of the state-aid nature of its £45bn taxpayer bailout.

W&G Investments (geddit?) floated on the junior market AIM this week, having raised £15m from a swathe of institutional investors at 100p a share. It promptly suspended trading in the shares, saying that would only recommence if RBS gives it exclusive status when it chooses between the bids in a couple of weeks’ time.

W&G has echoes of the other upstart bank-branches bidder NBNK, which made tilts at branches of both RBS and Lloyds Project Verde’s. NBNK spent quite a lot of its shareholders’ money on its directors’ pay and preparing bids that ultimately failed. It also kept shifting its target. Now it could become the vehicle for Virgin Money when it floats.

W&G’s chairman Andy Higginson, the former finance director of Tesco who was in charge of its “bank” for years, claims W&G’s is the only “real bid” in town. He is putting £1.1bn on the table now, and saying that RBS will get another £400m over the next two years, which basically comes out of Williams & Glyn’s profits.

Mr Higginson argues that the rival private equity bids – led by Corsair and former Lloyds retail banking chief John Maltby, with the backing of the Church Commissioners and from AnaCap, backed by Blackstone – are based on jam tomorrow.

Each offers to put anything from £500m to £800m into Williams & Glyn’s now, alongside RBS, to provide new management and ideas,  and then receive a substantial minority equity stake when it is floated in two years’ time.

Mr Higginson points out that his is the only deal that will mean RBS gets shot of the branches by early next year – though even that will have missed the EU’s deadline.

But Mr Maltby argues that his proposal – which he notes is fully funded already and has completed due diligence – gives RBS and, by dint of our 82 per cent stake, the taxpayer a fair share of any uplift in the value achieved over the next two years.

Given that the UK economy is showing increasingly strong signs of recovery and that interest rates may start rising again – as soon as early 2015, rather than the Bank of England’s suggested late 2016 – there is every chance that Williams & Glyn’s will be worth much more in two years.

RBS management, under the leadership of finance director Bruce van Saun, who is shortly off to float its US Citizens Bank, is running the sale process. But there is no doubt that UK Financial Investments (UKFI) , which holds the taxpayer stake, will have the final say.

Should we, the taxpayers, accept £1.1bn for something that currently has a net asset value of £1.55bn? Or should we hold on and accept, say, £800m for about half of something that could be much more valuable when it floats? UKFI should avoid any grandstanding by politicians, and back the longer-term view.

But it is refreshing to hear experienced FTSE 100 executives arguing their cases with such passion, knowledge and fervour.

It took me right back to the  great contested takeover bids of  the 1990s when deals were not purely corporate but verged on the personal.

Mr Higginson and Mr Maltby have not yet resorted to slagging each other off but surely it’s only a matter of time.

I, meanwhile, cannot reveal which of the two ended our conversation with “I am in France and going back to poolside now”.

News thin on ground, so no room for a thick head

If only every week began with a birthday celebration. Particularly one’s own. Don’t worry if you forgot to send a card – you are not alone.

Drinks with colleagues and friends and then off to a fine Chinese restaurant and an early night.

It is important to avoid early-morning tiredness and hangovers as a journalist with pages to fill in the dog days of August when financial news is as hard to find as shale gas drillers in Balcombe.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
VIDEO
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Telesales & Sales Support Apprentice

£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...

Client Relationship Manager - SQL, Python

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...

**Financial Services Tax**

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit