Tesco Moves to Buy-Out Royal Bank of Scotland from Joint Venture

03 June 2008

CHESHUNT, UK: Britain's largest supermarket chain Tesco is set to buy out cash-strapped Royal Bank of Scotland from their 50/50 joint venture, Tesco Personal Finance.

RBS, hitherto perceived (like UK prime minister Gordon Brown) as an impregnable bastion of Caledonian fiscal stolidity, is currently struggling to bolster its battered balance sheet.

To this end it is attempting to sell its RBS Insurance operation, currently producing around £500 million ($989.6m; €636.0m) in annual profits.

The bank is also on the verge of a £12 billion rights issue.

Although a host of potential bidders have expressed an interest in the RBS insurance arm, none are reportedly willing to pay the £7bn asking price.

Meantime, Tesco, whose profits last year hit £2.55 billion, now seeks to avoid any potential fallout from RBS's woes by acquiring 100% ownership of their  decade-old joint venture.

Under the terms of the putative deal, RBS will continue to provide back-office services to Tesco Personal Finance during a transition period. Once a sale is inked, TPF chief executive Robin Bulloch, will quit to rejoin RBS.

In the year to February 23, TPF generated a net profit of £128m.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff