Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has appointed UBS to advise on the sale of more than 300 branches, which is expected to attract a flurry of interest.
A teaser document, detailing the branches included in the sale, was circulated at the end of 2009. Potential bidders include National Australia Bank, which owns Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks in the UK, and Santander, the Spanish banking group that has acquired Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.
The sale process is at an early stage and an information memorandum is still being finalised.
The European Commission has ordered RBS to sell more than 300 branches in return for receiving billions of pounds of aid from the UK government. The 84 per cent state-downed bank also has to sell its commodities trading joint venture RBS Sempra and its insurance operations, including Churchill and Direct Line.
Forced asset sales in the wake of the government bailout of several major UK banks are opening up retail banking to new competition, as Virgin Money and Tesco are entering the banking market.
Meanwhile RBS chief executive Stephen Hester is likely to face questions over bonus figures today when he appears in front of the Treasury select committee.
Philip Dunne MP, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said RBS’s proposed bonus scheme meant that RBS bankers would receive more generous bonuses than bankers at ABN Amro, the Dutch bank which RBS bought for £10bn in 2007.