As my fellow Fools are probably well aware, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LSE: RBS) (NYSE: RBS.US) is required is sell 315 of its English branches as part of the deal that enabled it to be bailed out by the government in 2008.
The sale of the branches was progressing well until Santander pulled out of deal at an advanced stage. As an RBS customer, I can tell those of you who aren’t that this was a very frustrating experience, as I received countless letters to advise me of the progress of the sale as well as new credit cards and even a different login page. All of which was, ultimately, a waste of time!
However, as a shareholder in RBS, I am probably even more frustrated with the sale. I really wish they would just get on with it as everyone knows it is going to happen, and it feels as though such required actions are not helping market sentiment and are, to an extent, holding the shares back.
So, I was pleased to see that there are three groups said to be interested in purchasing the branches and all are planning on making their offers this week. In addition, by having three interested parties, we will hopefully avoid the Lloyds Banking Group Co-Op debacle and, should the preferred bidder drop out, one of the other two could take its place.
Indeed, once the branches are sold it should be another step in the long flight of RBS becoming a “really good bank” as CEO Stephen Hester wrote in his commentary to the recent interim results. Furthermore, the interims showed that RBS had made its first back-to-back quarterly profits in five years and that the group is clearly making progress.
Such progress, allied to the gradual removal of clouds hanging over the group (including the branch sale), can only be great news for shareholders. Let’s pray that this time the deal is closed and RBS can continue to go onwards and upwards.
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> Peter owns shares in RBS.