Sole bidder Santander makes £1.5bn pitch for RBS branches

ROYAL Bank of Scotland is hoping to seal a £1.5bn sale of its 318 Williams & Glyn branches to Santander by the third quarter, a source said last night, as the Spanish bank tabled the only final-round bid.

The deadline for offers was Monday. RBS, 83 per cent state-owned, is being forced to sell the assets after taking taxpayers’ funds, while Santander would get a firmer foothold in British business banking.

Santander has been carrying out due diligence for some time but the two sides are still haggling on price. The tag is likely to be in the mid-range of £1bn to £2bn, it is understood.

Santander entered the only bid despite strong early interest from rivals including Virgin Money, BBVA and National Australia Bank.