A new report has revealed that the biggest building society in the UK, Nationwide, is currently considering whether to put forward a bid for the Royal Bank of Scotland branches, which are up for sale.
There are 316 branches ready to be offloaded to the top bidder, after a deal between RBS and Santander collapsed over continued delays.
The sale of the RBS branches is compulsory after the bank agreed to offload a portion of its empire, in return for receiving a bail-out from the government. Santander originally snapped up the deal but after a series of delays and problems, the sale was eventually abandoned when it became clear that Santander would not be able to finalise the transfer for a considerable length of time.
Since the revelation that the branches are up for grabs, several names have already been linked with a bid, including high street new boy, NBNK and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money, the latter of which has been described as ‘very keen’ on the package.
The blame for the failure of the previous deal has been laid squarely with Santander but they have said they foresaw ‘grave’ problems with the integration of the RBS software with their own platform.
Representatives from trade union, Unite, have called for the deal to be cancelled because of the upheaval staff from the affected areas are facing, with even more uncertainty over their future. However, the head of RBS, Stephen Hester, has insisted that the deal will go ahead.
The money raised from the sale will help RBS to pay for what is believed to be a £80 million overhaul to their computer systems. After repeated problems, which saw customers unable to access their money for several days, the bank has admitted it needs to beef up its software, to prevent a recurrence of the embarrassing problem.