Santander to snap up RBS outlets

Marion Dakers
BANKING group Santander is poised to announce its purchase of over 300 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland today, allowing the Spanish giant to significantly boost its presence on the British high street.

Santander is set to end months of speculation by confirming it will buy the 318 branches that RBS acquired under the Williams & Glyn’s brand, said a source close to the situation, though official word could be delayed until tomorrow. Virgin Money was previously thought to be interested in the branches, which are located across England and Wales.

The branches are likely to be sold at a small premium to net asset value,, which will not be known until the deal completes.

But the deal with Santander is thought to add up to £1.8bn to the RBS coffers. The group is selling several assets as a condition of its £45.5bn government bailout. The news comes three days before RBS is due to announce its interim results.

The bank is also believed to be close to announcing the sale of its payment processing business Worldpay to the private equity firms Advent International and Bain Capital for a price of between £2bn and £2.5bn.

Santander’s purchase gives it over 1,600 outlets, meaning it will leapfrog HSBC to become the fourth-largest UK bank by branch numbers.

Both RBS and Santander declined to comment.