Santander is reportedly considering a surprise bid for 300 Royal Bank of Scotland branches after pulling out of the same deal three years ago.
The Spanish-owned bank is thought to be eyeing the Williams & Glyn network after it ended exclusive talks to buy the business in autumn of 2012. It cited delays to the completion of a deal at the time.
Newcastle-based Virgin Money is also understood to be looking at a bid for the branches, valued at more than £1.5bn, according to Sky News.
Ulster Bank owner RBS, which is 73% owned by the taxpayer, confirmed that it would launch a formal sale process in the first half of next year after receiving a number of informal approaches.