Santander snaps up RBS branches

After months of negotiation and newspaper speculation, Spanish banking giant Santander has finally succeeded in its goal of buying 318 high street branches from Royal Bank of Scotland.

The deal, comprising of 311 RBS-branded branches in England and Wales and seven NatWest branches in Scotland, has been on the cards for some time since RBS announced plans to sell off a portion of its branch network to fall in line with competition concerns.

Santander will pay out around £1.65 billion for the network, with a £350 million premium paid up front.

It will take the Spanish bank, which already owns well-known British high street banking brands Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, into the small and medium-sized business (SME) market, boosting hopes of fresh lending to the UK's small business and start-up community.

The acquisition includes 40 SME banking centres and more than 400 business relationship managers, as well as four corporate banking centres and three private banking centres.

The businesses serve 1.8 million retail customers, around 244,000 SME customers and 1,200 mid-sized corporate customers.

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