Belfast Telegraph

W&G 'the only real bidder' for RBS branches

By Nick Goodway

The boss of W&G Investments, former Tesco finance director Andrew Higginson, has claimed that his investment vehicle was the "only serious bidder" for the 315 branches that Royal Bank of Scotland has been forced to put up for sale in England and Wales.

W&G plans to offer RBS £1.1bn up front and a further £400m out of future profits for the branches.

"Having been a division within RBS with a 'for sale' sign above it for five years, inevitably it's been slightly neglected," said Higginson.

"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."

W&G shares were suspended immediately on joining AIM today, with plans to start trading only if and when a deal is struck with RBS. The placing on AIM raised £15m from more than a dozen institutional investors and will be used to cover the costs of preparing the bid, including the £2,500-a-day fees for chief executive Shaun Doherty.

Higginson said: "We are the only actual bidder. The others involve an initial public offering two years down the track, whereas ours is a proper bid that will buy the business outright this year."

John Maltby, the former Lloyds executive who is heading the rival Corsair consortium, which includes the Church Commissioners, said: "The W&G approach is highly conditional, has yet to raise all the money and has not completed its due diligence. We have put our money on the table and are not trying to buy on the cheap."

The third bidder – the UK private equity firm AnaCap, with backing from Blackstone – has given few details of its proposal.

It is expected that RBS will choose which offer to grant exclusivity early next month. The 315 branches have assets of £20.5bn, and two million retail and 250,000 small business customers.

£1.1bn

amount W&G plans to offer up front for the 315 branches of RBS

Belfast Telegraph

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