RBS bidders at war over bank branches sale

Tim Wallace
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THE WAR of words between investors vying to buy 316 RBS branches intensified yesterday as the groups tried to discredit their opponents.

W&G Investments’ Andrew Higginson claimed his is the only viable bid, while John Maltby, from the consortium including Corsair, argues he is in a better position to move ahead.

Former Tesco Bank boss Higginson has experience of a similar deal – the bank was originally a joint venture with RBS. And yesterday he claimed “we are the only actual bidder – the other two involve an initial public offering two years down the track.”

W&G wants to buy the branches for £1.1bn upfront, followed by up to £400m depending on profitability in the coming years.

But Maltby hit back, insisting his plans create the most useful, viable new challenger on the high street.

“Our structure creates the best value and long-term potential for the tax-payer and RBS. We have completed full due diligence, we have raised the money and we are ready to go,” he said.

“We have committed to the highest standards of business ethics and conduct and to helping restore the faith in fair retail and commercial banking.”

The Corsair consortium also includes backing from the Church of England, Standard Life, RIT and Centrebridge.

It want to pay £600m to £800m up front for up to 49 per cent, with the remainder sold in an initial public offering once it is split off from RBS.

A third bidder led by Anacap and Blackstone is also in the running and plans to buy up to half of the unit upfront and IPO the remainder later.