Schroders and Threadneedle are among the largest of 13 asset management firms that are invested in W&G Investments, a vehicle that is poised to make an offer for 316 branches that are being offloaded by nationalised banking group Royal Bank of Scotland.
All of the institutions have taken at least a 3 per cent equity stakein W&G Investments, which is led by Andrew Higginson, former Tesco finance director. Schroders and Threadneedle each have stakes of 15 per cent or higher.
W&G is set to float on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market tomorrow (20 August) and is looking to raise £15m.
The 13 institutional backers are:
• Schroder Investment Management Limited (16 per cent);
• Threadneedle Asset Management Limited (15 per cent);
• Lansdowne Partners Limited (10 per cent);
• Talisman Global Asset Management Ltd (5.5 per cent);
• Canaccord Genuity Limited (5.3 per cent);
• Aviva Investors Global Services Limited (5 per cent);
• Franklin Mutual Advisors LLC (4.5 per cent);
• Toscafund Asset Management LLP (3.7 per cent);
• Old Mutual Global Investors (UK) Limited (3.4 per cent);
• Henderson Fund Management Limited (3.4 per cent);
• Jupiter Asset Management Limited (3.8 per cent);
• Invesco Asset Management Limited (3.1 per cent); and
• CI Investments Inc (3 per cent).
The sale of the RBS branches, known as the Rainbow Assets, was mandated by the European Commission in 2009 as a condition of its approval of the UK government bailout of the bank. RBS committed to selling the branches by the deadline of the end of 2013.
A sale had been agreed in principle with the UK arm of Spanish banking group Santander UK in August 2010, but the deal collapsed in October 2012 after Santander pulled out.
According to FTAdviser sister title the Financial Times, W&G Investments, which could bid as much as £1.5bn for the assets, is one of three interested parties in the sale. The other potential bidders are a vehicle led by private equity group Corsair and Centerbridge, and another backed by London-based AnaCap Financial Partners, which has partnered with US buyout house Blackstone.
The bank could also opt for a flotation of the branches as an independent entity, which is the route being explored by Lloyds for its ‘Project Verde’ branch sale following the collapse of an agreed deal with Co-operative Bank.