A THIRD competing offer for the 300-plus branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland was formally put on the table yesterday, with an announcement on a preferred bidder likely within weeks.
W&G Investments, chaired by Andrew Higginson, the former Tesco finance director, submitted the offer on the day the company floated on Aim.
It has £1.1 billion of backing from major fund managers including Schroders and Aviva Investors for its initial upfront bid. This offer could rise to £1.5bn if the so-called Project Rainbow branches hit certain performance targets.
The other two bids were already with RBS, from a US private equity consortium comprising Corsair Capital and Centerbridge, and a joint offer from buyout groups Blackstone and AnaCap.
One insider to the talks with RBS said: “I still think there is time for the various proposals to be fine-tuned over the coming weeks. But there is unlikely to be any fundamental valuation changes.”
Asked about the biggest challenge to its bid, W&G’s Higginson said the most important thing was for the branches to get separate management as soon as possible so that value is preserved.
“Having been a division within RBS with a ‘for-sale’ sign above it for five years, inevitably it’s been slightly neglected,” he said.
“The staff have done a fantastic job in holding the customers, but you know this business needs separate focus, the management vigour that a for-sale sign doesn’t allow you to have.”
Corsair has said it would install former Lloyds Banking Group executive John Maltby as chief executive and pay between £600m and £800m to become a cornerstone investor ahead of a stock market flotation that would value the new bank at more than £1.5bn.