Santander is poised to win its shootout with rival National Australia Bank-Clydesdale to buy over 318 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.
It's believed that the Spanish bank will be successful in its attempt to buy the Williams & Glyn-branded offices across England and Wales.
The group has fought off competition from a host of big bidders including Spanish rival BBVA and Blackstone, which had teamed up with the Wellcome Trust to make an offer.
Virgin, which had joined up with the US billionaire Wilbur Ross to bid, was forced out of the race earlier this month leaving Santander to tough it out with NAB.
A source said: "The offer won't be trumped." A spokesman for Santander declined to comment.
Although a deal is likely to be formally agreed next month, transfer of the branches from RBS's ownership is unlikely to take place this year. The sale is likely to net RBS around £2bn.
The sale process began after the European Commission demanded RBS sell chunks of the bank following its acceptance of billions of pounds in state aid in 2008.
RBS, which is 83 per cent owned by the taxpayer, revealed plans last week for up to 2,000 redundancies, primarily in its insurance businesses. The Stephen Hester-led bank has shed more than 20,000 jobs since the EU crackdown – 14,000 in the UK.
After the creation of a commission to look at the possible separation of RBS's retail and investment operations, a sale of the Government's stake is now unlikely until next year.Reuse content