Branson revisits RBS move
The collapsed sale of 316 high-street branches to Santander could be Virgin Money's gain
Sir Richard Branson is mulling another tilt at Royal Bank of Scotland's 316 high-street branches, after Spanish-owned Santander dramatically pulled out of a £1.65bn deal late on Friday.
RBS has been forced to sell the branches by the European Commission in exchange for allowing the £45.5bn of state aid that rescued the bank in 2008 and, under the ruling, has until next year to complete a deal. Virgin Money had been in the running previously, as it was keen to pick up the 244,000 business customers that would have been part of the transaction, but lost out to Santander and bought most of Northern Rock instead.
This weekend, sources close to Virgin Money said that Sir Richard and his team were still focused on properly integrating Northern Rock, but conceded that it would have to look at any such "opportunities". As a result of that takeover, Virgin Money has been rebranding 75 Northern Rock branches, and could be tempted to expand further at what should now be a bargain-basement price for RBS.
"This happened so late last week, and the priority has to be Northern Rock, but you can never say never. It might depend on the IT systems," said one source.
An IT breakdown in the summer, which resulted in millions of customers being unable to access their accounts at RBS and Ulster Bank was a factor in Santander walking away from the deal. The decision by Ana Botin, the chief executive at Santander UK, has left nearly two million customers in limbo, more than two years after the agreement was originally struck.
Private equity groups J C Flowers and Blackstone are also tipped to enter the running, although RBS could consider a flotation. Last week, the bank's chief executive, Stephen Hester, raised nearly £800m through listing its home insurance business, Direct Line, on the London Stock Exchange.
However, NBNK, the attempt to create a new simple retail bank, set up by former Lloyd's of London chairman Lord Levene, is understood to be sticking to its plan to wind up its operation. This resulted from its failure to secure a deal to buy Project Verde, the 632 branches that Lloyds Banking Group has to sell under a similar EU mandate.
Sources close to NBNK said it was not felt that the RBS branches would, on their own, represent a viable stand-alone business, although they could have been combined with Verde.
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ukip Jelly Babies cause uproar on Amazon
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...