RBS delays branch bidding to heighten competition in sale

Tim Wallace
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BIDDING to take over 316 branches of RBS has been delayed to allow all the competing buyers to get their finances in order, sources close to the negotiations told City A.M.

Bids from a group led by Corsair Capital, a consortium headed by AnaCap and Blackstone as well as the W&G Investments Group all submitted their bids to the bank by the initial 5 August deadline.

But the state-backed bank is believed to have adapted its timetable to give more time to W&G Investments, which intends to list on the Alternative Investment Market to raise funds for the attempted purchase.

The so-called Project Rainbow branches were initially expected to be sold to Santander, which wanted to boost its business with small- and medium-sized enterprises.

But that deal fell through, delaying RBS’s plans to sell the branches, which it is being forced to sell off by the European Commission under the terms of its 2008 bailout.

It is thought that RBS wants to ensure all bidders are fully able to take part in the process, both to ensure it gets the best price for the unit, and to prove to regulators it is doing all it can to get the best chance of a sale.

RBS declined to comment.