Church wants to give sermon to RBS’s spin-off

Tim Wallace
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THE CHURCH of England has joined a consortium of investors bidding for the 315 branches RBS is selling off as a new independent bank, it emerged yesterday.

It is backing Lord Davies’ bid for the lender, which includes a range of private equity and investment groups.

If the bid is a success, the new bank’s management will have to prepare for pressure from the Church, which has strict policies on investments that it considers unethical.

It will not invest in firms making alcohol or pornography, for instance, and has been known to lobby firms’ bosses hard to behave well.

Last year the Church’s investment managers held a series of meetings with Barclays leaders in the wake of the Libor scandal, while they sold their investment in News Corp after the phone hacking revelations.

As a result it is expected to hold the new bank’s managers to similarly high standards.

But there is also a financial aim for the Church – it aims to generate annual returns on its investments equivalent to the retail price index plus five per cent.

Three investment groups are bidding for the unit, which could be sold for as much as £1bn. It was previously expected to be sold for £1.65bn to Santander, which dropped out of the process late last year.

The branches have to be sold as a condition imposed by the European Commission as part of the bailout deal made with RBS.