RBS branches’ suitor sets out flotation plans

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ONE of the bidders seeking to buy hundreds of branches from Royal Bank of Scotland is planning a stock-market flotation this month to help raise funds for the acquisition.

W&G Investments, fronted by former Tesco Bank chairman Andrew Higginson, has outlined proposals to float on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) on 14 August in preparation for the deal.

If an agreement with RBS is reached, the firm would then carry out a share placing to fund the up-front costs and seek a move to the main market in London.

Along with Higginson, W&G has brought ex-Tesco Bank IT director Shaun Doherty on board as a non-executive. He is joined by John Reed, previously a non-exec at the supermarket-owned lender, and RBS veteran John McGuire.

RBS, which publishes half-year results tomorrow, has been forced to offload 316 branches following its £45 billion bail-out during the banking crisis. A deal to sell them to Santander collapsed in October.

The group had been given a deadline by the European Commission to dispose of the branches by the end of this year, but is expected to seek an extension as it mulls offers for the business.

W&G faces rival bids from a consortium involving private equity firm Corsair Capital, and AnaCap Financial Partners, which is behind UK challenger bank Aldermore.

Aldermore chief executive Phillip Monks yesterday said the bank was seeking acquisitions as it plans to boost its balance sheet to £5bn by the end of next year.