Banco Santander SA of Spain has submitted a final bid worth up to 1.8 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) for Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's 318 U.K. branches, a person familiar with the situation said.
It was likely be the only offer put on the table ahead of a Monday evening deadline. If Santander was the sole bidder as expected, it would soon begin exclusive talks with RBS, and a deal could be closed within weeks, another person said.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA was the only other bank not to officially drop out of the bidding for the assets, but people familiar with the situation said it is using the RBS offer as an opportunity to get more details on the U.K. market, rather than being seriously interested. BBVA has only three U.K. branches, and if it bought RBS' assets it would have to spend heavily to set up infrastructure for the new operations. Earlier Monday, BBVA Chairman Francisco Gonzalez said at a conference that the company is more interested in expanding in the U.S. and Asia.
Santander has a network of roughly 1,300 banks in the U.K. The branches up for sale are in England and Wales, along with NatWest branches in Scotland, and the accounts of some customers across the U.K. Collectively they have assets of 23.6 billion pounds ($34.8B) and 6,000 employees.