RBS's Williams & Glyn: shorter name as split takes shape

LONDON Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:51am EST

LONDON Dec 19 (Reuters) - The new British bank being spun out from Royal Bank of Scotland will shorten its name to Williams & Glyn as it steps up plans from January for its independent future.

RBS is reviving an old banking name for the business it has been forced to sell by European authorities as a cost of being bailed out by UK taxpayers in 2008.

The business, which includes 314 branches and is due to formally split from RBS in 2015, has up to now been called "Williams & Glyn's", but will now drop the "'s".

"From January, we'll be consistent in referring to Williams & Glyn, which is more simple and straightforward and also acknowledges the bank's rich heritage," a spokesman for RBS said.

The Williams & Glyn network will include 308 branches that are currently branded RBS in England and Wales and six that are now NatWest branches in Scotland, and accounts for one in seven of the group's 2,200 UK branches.

The decision partly reflects the difficulty of using an apostrophe in branding and website addresses.

The name is derived from Williams & Glyn's Bank, which was formed in 1969 when RBS merged Glyn, Mills & Co., a bank formed in 1753 that became well known for financing railways, and Williams Deacon's Bank, which was formed in London in 1771.

The bank's new chief executive, John Maltby, is due to formally start in January. He was previously head of commercial banking at Lloyds and his biggest challenge will be separating the branches and accounts from RBS and setting up a new technology platform, after a string of recent IT problems at RBS raised concern about the robustness of its systems.

Williams & Glyn could be headquartered in Manchester, in northwest England, although RBS said no decision had been made.

It will have big operations in Manchester, London and Edinburgh and senior jobs have been advertised as potentially based in any of the cities.

Williams & Glyn is expected to be a "challenger" to the existing big four names on Britain's high street, with a particular strength in small business banking, where it has about 5 percent of the UK market.

It has nearly 1.7 million customers and employs around 4,500 people, which RBS said is likely to rise to 6,000 in the future.

RBS in September agreed to sell up to 49 percent of the business to a consortium of investors led by U.S. private equity firm Corsair for 600 million pounds.

The investors also include The Church of England, which said it expects the bank to operate to high ethical standards after a series of scandals across Britain's banks.

RBS, which is 82 percent owned by the UK government, is expected to run the business separately before it is floated, possibly in 2016. This week it said Rory Cullinan will oversee the separation and flotation on its side.

Lloyds was also ordered by the European Commission to sell 630 branches. It has revived the TSB name and plans to float it as a "challenger" bank next year.

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