Nationwide Building Society is interested in the 316 branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland.
Santander pulled out of the deal to buy the RBS branches – agreed for a price of £1.65bn in August 2010 – in October amid concerns over the completion date and integration complications. The deal was initially set to conclude at the end of 2011, however Santander feared it may take until 2014 to transfer the business.
RBS was ordered to sell the branches by the European Union after receiving a state bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.
Today Nationwide chief executive Graham Beale told Reuters: “Strategically we want to enter into the SME space. If there is anything I could do that would accelerate our strategy it would be of interest. Within that context, RBS is something which we will watch very carefully.”
Beale added that a deal would only be struck if the complexities involved in executing the deal could be worked out.
He says: “There are clearly some enormous complexities there, otherwise that deal would have been done. We need to understand just what those issues are before we can be committal on the point.”
It is thought Virgin Money and US private equity firm JC Flowers are also interested in bidding for the branches.