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Santander to merge Hay and Cater Allen

Santander plans to merge James Hay, Cater Allen and Abbey Sharedealing under the Santander Private Banking brand within the next two years.

Santander commercial director Richard Dunn says the move is part of a strategy aimed at creating one of the top private banks in the UK.

The Santander Private Banking brand operates across the world outside the UK.

The move will see Sipp admin and wrap service James Hay, private bank Cater Allen and Abbey’s sharedealing service come under the Santander Private Banking umbrella. Dunn says: “We want to make it Santander Private Banking, that is the ambition but we do not want to just rush in removing the brands and push it all together because we need to think it through. I think we will probably look to spend at least another 18 months evolving what we have now and somewhere around 2010 start to look at branches with full branding.”

An Abbey spokeswoman stressed there were no plans to rebrand its high-street mortgage and banking arms under the Santander brand.

Dunn says the wealth management proposition will use IFAs as its distribution network and not compete with advisers for business. “IFAs will be our partners. There is no intention to go into the direct arena,” he says. Dunn says the firm hopes to have private banking branches across the UK which IFAs and clients can access.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Tom McPhail: “There is bags of potential and financial clout but I am surprised they are not taking a more mass market route.”

Stradbrooke Consultancy director Martin Fox says: “I think it is probably a good idea as Santander is building its brand in the UK and James Hay has lost some brand equity. In time, I would expect the rest of Abbey to become Santander. I would be surprised if the Abbey brand still exists in five years.”

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