Church-backed bid for RBS arm could herald creation of ethical bank on high street

Consortium would create strong addition to Co-op Bank on the high street

The Church of England is backing a bid for hundreds of branches being offloaded by Royal Bank of Scotland, raising the prospect of a new, ethical bank on the high street.

The Church Commissioners, who manage the Church's investments, are helping to fund a consortium led by the former banker and trade minister Lord Davies looking to take control of 315 RBS branches.

With investment decisions by the Church Commissioners taking into account the advice of the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group, this would suggest consumers will have a new, ethical banking option if the consortium is successful.

That would be a fillip for ethical financial firms following last week's forced bailout of the Co-op Bank.

RBS is selling the branches after being ordered to get rid of them by the European Commission as a consequence of being bailed out by taxpayers. They were due to be sold to Santander, but the £1.65bn deal collapsed last October more than two years after being agreed.

As well as the Church Commissioners, the consortium contains the private-equity firms Corsair – of which Lord Davies is a partner and vice-chairman – and Centerbridge, plus Standard Life, and the City veteran Lord Rothschild's investment trust, RIT Capital.

There are believed to be two other interested groups still in the running for the business: a tie-up between private-equity company AnaCap Financial Partners and US giant Blackstone, as well as a collection of more than 20 asset management firms led by Andrew Higginson, a former finance director of Tesco.

Earlier this week, Virgin Money's chief executive, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, said it was "totally out of the running" for the business.

The Church of England and RBS declined to comment.

The Church of England already holds a small stake in Barclays, and criticised the bank in its annual report last month, saying it had "repeatedly let down society with its conduct".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has become a major figure in the struggle to reshape Britain's banking sector due to his position on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

He clashed with RBS's chief executive, Stephen Hester, last November in the role, asking: "What is the duty of an enormous bank like yours – approaching 100 per cent of GDP, well into the hundreds of billions of pounds – what is your duty to society, and why didn't you mention it?"

On the side of angels

No pornography, arms or booze are some of the guidelines by which the Church Commissioners' investment decisions are made. Advice is taken from the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), which was behind the Church's decision last year to sell its stake in News Corporation in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. The EIAG entered into a year of talks with News Corp, and put forward recommendations, but in the end said the media giant had not "brought about sufficient change".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living