Bidders for RBS branches battle to stay in race

Tim Wallace
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THE BID headed by ex-Tesco Bank executive Andy Higginson is believed have a tougher challenge than its rivals to prove to RBS its offer represents a better deal for the bank than a straight initial public offering.

The race to buy the 316 RBS branches is nearing its end, and the W&G Investments consortium is the only bid on the table which would seek to buy the entire unit outright.

Bids backed by Corsair and by Blackstone and Anacap are seeking to buy up to 49 per cent, running it jointly with RBS before floating the remainder on the stock market.

As a result RBS is thought to be leaning initially towards the two shared bids on the basis it gets some money up front, and then benefits from any rise in prices over the coming year before the float.

It is understood the bank views the Higginson bid as riskier, because it takes the whole stake immediately and so the bank loses the chance to tap the wider markets. As a result it has a higher bar to pass to prove it is better value than a straight IPO.

But W&G Investments insists it is still firmly in the running. “We remain in constructive discussions with RBS about our bid,” said a spokesperson.