LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) has narrowed a shortlist of prospective bidders for hundreds of branches it must sell, with JC Flowers and Apollo dropping out of the race, sources familiar with the matter said.
The part-nationalized bank informed the U.S. private equity firms this week that their joint proposal had not been successful, the sources said. The bank is expected to contact other bidders in the next few days, one of the sources said.
RBS has to sell 315 branches as a condition of receiving a 45.8 billion pound ($69.2 billion) bailout during the 2008 financial crisis that left it 82-percent owned by the government. A planned 1.65-billion-pound sale to Santander collapsed last October.
A proposal from several of Britain’s biggest investment firms, fronted by former Tesco (TSCO.L) finance director Andrew Higginson, remains in the running, one of the sources said, along with a proposal from U.S. private equity firms Centerbridge Partners and Corsair Capital. Virgin Money is waiting for a response to its proposal from RBS, another source said.
RBS may finalize a shortlist next week but the timetable for an eventual sale remains uncertain given the different types of proposals being considered, one of the sources said.
RBS is preparing the business, code named Rainbow, for a stock market flotation but is open to the idea of having cornerstone investors on board prior to an initial public offering. The bank has said a sale this year is now unlikely, meaning it will have to ask European regulators to extend a December 2013 deadline.
UBS UBSN.VX is advising RBS on the sale. RBS, UBS and JC Flowers declined to comment on the process. ($1 = 0.6616 British pounds)
Reporting by Matt Scuffham; editing by Tom Pfeiffer