The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) remains confident that it will find a buyer for the 316 branches it is obliged to sell.
This follows Santander’s decision to pull out of the acquisition.
The disposal consists of the RBS branch business in England and Wales, and the NatWest branch business in Scotland, along with certain SME and corporate activities across the UK.
The sale of the business was mandated by the European Commission in 2009 as a condition of its approval of state aid provided to RBS as part of the recapitalisation by the UK Government. Santander agreed to the purchase in August 2010.
Santander’s decision follows extensive work by both parties to separate the business into a largely standalone form and to prepare the business, customers and staff for transfer.
RBS says it is determined that the decision will have no impact on the service available to customers and will continue to work to fulfil its obligations to the European Commission.
“I can assure all affected customers that there will be no disruption to the service they receive,” said RBS Group chief executive Stephen Hester.
“It is business as usual in all of these branches, and customers don’t need to take any action.
“While this is a profitable part of our business that we would rather not part with, RBS has worked hard to ensure it is substantially separate from our UK branch network and corporate business and largely ready to be taken on by a new owner.
“Much of the heavy lifting associated with a transfer has already been completed, including separating data for 1.8 million customers and putting in place a standalone management team.
“It is of course disappointing that Santander decided to pull out of this transaction, especially for the customers and staff involved. However, RBS’s strong progress in our restructuring plans means we can continue to provide a stable home for this business and its customers pending a further resolution.
“RBS will commence a new process of disposal following discussion with the EC and will provide a further update on this in due course.”