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RBS bidder to join stock market
RBS is under pressure to find a suitable outcome for its offloaded branches
One of the bidders in the race for 315 branches being offloaded by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will join the stock market this week as part of its £1.5 billion plan.
W&G Investments, which is led by former Tesco finance director Andy Higginson, will look to raise an initial £15 million from the listing in order to cover the costs of making its offer.
If successful in the RBS auction, the Sunday Times said a group of more than 20 fund managers would then use the listed company to plough in more than £1 billion of cash to complete the acquisition of the branches, which are being offloaded by RBS in order to meet European rules on state aid.
W&G - named after the Williams & Glyn's brand being sold by RBS alongside the branches - is one of three bidders, while the banking group is also considering the public sale of shares in the newly-created operation.
RBS is under pressure to find a suitable outcome for the branches after a £1.6 billion deal with Santander fell through last year.
Mr Higginson - who also ran Tesco's banking operations - is chairman of the W&G venture, which will list on the stock market on Wednesday but then suspend its shares until the outcome of the auction process is known.
The other bidders are backed by private equity firms but have experienced retail bankers on their teams. They are Corsair Capital, which is working with US private equity firm Centerbridge Capital, and a joint bid from AnaCap and Blackstone.
RBS must sell the branches following its £45.5 billion bailout at the height of the financial crisis. The branches are being offered as a business with around £20 billion of deposits and loans, 1.7 million retail customers and 240,000 small-business clients.
As well as plans for a flotation, it is also considering selling a minority stake to private equity and institutional investors to kick-start the process.
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