The Wellcome Trust, a £13 billion (€15 billion; $20 billion) UK charitable foundation, has teamed up with The Blackstone Group to bid to buy 318 branches being sold by the Royal Bank of Scotland, a Wellcome spokeswoman has confirmed. Blackstone declined to comment. Royal Bank
The Blackstone/Wellcome bid comes after weeks of speculation surrounding Blackstone’s intentions for the UK banking market after it emerged that the firm had applied to the Financial Services Authority for a UK banking license.
If the consortium is successful it would represent the second time that Blackstone and Wellcome have teamed up to acquire a retail banking platform. In May 2009, the two institutions were part of a larger consortium – including private equity firms The Carlyle Group, Centerbridge Partners and WL Ross – to back a $900 million buyout of failed Floridian bank BankUnited.
The RBS bid comes as Wellcome, which is one of Europe’s most influential private equity LPs, has expressed a desire to execute more direct co-investments as part of its private equity investment programme.