In a stock exchange update this morning, RBS said it has made significant progress in separating the challenger bank brand and remains committed to meeting obligations under the State Aid agreement to dispose of Williams & Glyn before the end of 2017, as well as ensuring a smooth transition its 1.8m customers.
A banking licence application was submitted on 30 September and the parent company is now working with regulators on obtaining the licence and separating the business in the first quarter of 2017.
“The strategic attractiveness of Williams & Glyn has been reflected in a number of informal approaches for the business,” read the statement.
“Therefore whilst continuing preparations for an IPO, we are planning to launch a trade sale process in H1 2016, and targeting the signing of a binding agreement to sell the business by year end 2016, with full divestment by the end of 2017.”
Meanwhile, the government has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to assess the likely impact of the latest proposals for the divestment of Williams & Glyn for competition in the UK banking sector.
In an update published this morning (16 December), the government stated that in light of RBS’ decision to launch a trade sale process - which is likely to raise different issues from an IPO depending on the identity of a buyer and which would be subject to merger control as appropriate - it has asked the CMA to suspend its work on the review for now.
The Williams & Glyn business consists of 307 bank branches in the UK, including the RBS branches in England and Wales, and Natwest branches in Scotland.
As at end the third quarter this year, it had net loans and advances to customers of £20bn and customer deposits of £24bn.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan commented: “Separating out the Williams & Glyn business is a complex process, but we remain focused on meeting our State Aid obligation, achieving full divestment by the end of 2017, and reaching the best outcome for shareholders, customers, and staff.”