Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Wednesday it has received “a number of informal approaches” for its Williams & Glyn branch network.
RBS said that while it will continue preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) of Williams & Glyn, it now also plans “to launch a trade sale process” of the branch network in the first half of 2016.
RBS said it will target “the signing of a binding agreement to sell the business by year end 2016, with full divestment by the end of 2017.”
Analysts said potential buyers of Williams & Glyn could include Santander, led by Ana Botin (pictured), Virgin Money, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, and Spain’s BBVA and that the Williams & Glyn network could be valued at up to £1.5 billion.
RBS said Williams & Glyn had net loans and advances to customers of £20 billion and customer deposits of £24 billion at end of this year’s third quarter. Williams & Glyn has 1.8 million customers.
RBS said it submitted a banking licence application for Williams & Glyn on September 30.
“Separating out the Williams & Glyn business is a complex process, but we remain focused on meeting our State Aid obligation, achieving full divestment by the end of 2017, and reaching the best outcome for shareholders, customers, and staff,” said RBS chief executive Ross McEwan.
In 2013, RBS raised roughly £600 million from a group of investors including Corsair Capital, Centerbridge Partners and the Church of England’s investment fund for a stake of up to 49 percent in Williams & Glyn.
Corsair Capital said on its website the investor group bought £600 million of “a senior ranking exchangeable bond issued by RBS Group which will convert into common equity of the newly established bank upon IPO.”
RBS was bailed out for roughly £46 billion in 2008 by British taxpayers, who still own 73% of the company, and was ordered by European competition authorities to sell the branch network that largely comprises Williams & Glyn following the bailout.