Santander nixes £1.7-bn RBS deal

A £1.7 billion deal to sell 316 Royal Bank of Scotland branches to Santander fell flat last night.

RBS boss Stephen Hester said he was disappointed that the plug had been pulled on the deal by the Spanish banking giant but promised it would not affect customers.
It is reported the Spanish lender walked away from the deal due to problems in the integration of the two banks' IT systems.

According to Santander, it backed out because it became clear that the purchase could not be completed by the agreed deadline of next February.

Hester said RBS would start looking for a new buyer.

The sale, involving NatWest branches in Scotland and RBS branches in England and Wales, was ordered by the European Commission in return for the UK government's £45-billion bailout of the bank.

The surprise move leaves in the lurch 1.8 million customers and small businesses that had braced for transfer from one company to another. It would also force the state-backed bank to conduct a hasty search for a new buyer.