Blackstone, Wellcome Quit RBS Branch Auction

LONDON (Reuters) – Buyout firm Blackstone (BX.N) and charity the Wellcome Trust have dropped their joint bid for bank branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.Their exit from the running means just four suitors remain for the 318 branches, being sold under the revived Williams & Glyn brand, that are expected to fetch more than 1 billion pounds.[ID:nLDE63510D]

The other bidders are Spanish lenders Banco Santander (SAN.MC) and BBVA (BBVA.MC), National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) and Virgin Money, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

RBS, 84 percent government-owned after receiving a taxpayer-funded capital injection at the height of the banking crisis, is selling 318 of its branches so that the bailout complies with European Union state aid rules.

Blackstone, the Wellcome Trust and RBS could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Bernard Orr)