Bidder says RBS branch sale could be delayed

Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:19pm EDT

Men speak on their mobile phones outside a Royal Bank of Scotland office in the City of London August 2, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Men speak on their mobile phones outside a Royal Bank of Scotland office in the City of London August 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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(Reuters) - W&G Investments Plc IPO-WGI.L, one of the three bidders vying for Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS.L) 315 branches, said the sale could be delayed beyond the two-year schedule.

RBS has been ordered to sell the branches in return for receiving a 45.5 billion pound ($71.04 billion) bailout during the 2008 financial crisis which left British taxpayers owning 81 percent of the bank. The sale process dubbed Project Rainbow, suffered a setback in October when Santander (SAN.MC) pulled out of a deal to buy the branches for 1.65 billion pounds.

"It is possible that separation will not be achieved within the two-year period currently contemplated by RBSG," W&G Investments, which will list on the London Stock Exchange on Monday, said in a regulatory filing while listing risk factors to the possible deal.

W&G Investments said the proposed deal was a complex and time consuming process.

W&G Investments led by former Tesco finance director Andy Higginson; a consortium including private equity firms Corsair Capital and Centerbridge; and a group led by Anacap Financial and Blackstone (BX.N) are bidding for the state-backed bank's branch network.

W&G Investments said the overall consideration for the deal had yet be agreed upon. However, if successful, it would pay 1.1 billion pounds in cash up front.

($1 = 0.6405 British pounds)

(Reporting by Karen Rebelo in Bangalore and Laura Noonan in London; Editing by Chris Reese)

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