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Santander confirms Royal Bank of Scotland branch offer

Spanish giant Santander has today confirmed a potential £1.8 billion for the 318 Royal Bank of Scotland branches which are up for auction. It is believed that Santander is the only firm bidder for the branches despite the fact that a number of parties came forward when the auction process began. The branches are being sold because of an EU ruling in relation to state aid for Royal Bank of Scotland when the company was on the verge of collapse.

Santander has been picking up UK assets for some time now having bought Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and the savings arm of Bradford & Bingley. If the Royal Bank of Scotland offer is successful, as seems likely, the company will have a 14% share of the UK mortgage market and 10% share of the retail savings market. In many ways Santander has been ahead of the game having changed a number of well-known UK brands to the "Santander" brand thereby escaping some of the growing consumer disdain aimed at the UK banking arena.

Many people expect further consolidation in the UK banking sector with the potential for retail banking and investment banking arms to be separated at companies such as Barclays bank.

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