Floatation may fund Santander’s bid for RBS branches

Santander is thought to be consi-dering a floatation of its UK businesses as part of plans to buy up branches being sold by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

RBS is selling 318 branches following a ruling by the European Commission in November which ordered the lender to offload assets to boost competition.

Santander is tipped to be one of the bidders for the RBS branch network as its plans to expand its UK business following the recent rebranding of Abbey and Bradford & Bingley, and the upcoming rebrand of Alliance & Leicester.

A floatation is said to be one of the options on the table to raise the capital needed to buy the branches.

Earlier this month Santander UK posted a 30% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £1.54bn for the year to December 31 2009.

The company took a gross mortgage lending market share of 18.6%, up from 13.9% in 2008.

A Santander spokesman was unable to comment on reports of a possible floatation.