NatWest Group PLC (LON:NWG) is among a group of potential buyers eyeing a bid for Sainsbury’s Bank in what would be the bank’s largest acquisition since it was bailed out by the taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis.
According to a report from Sky News late on Thursday, the FTSE 100 banking giant, which changed its name from RBS in July, has requested information from Sainsbury’s in recent weeks regarding its banking arm, although the report said the interest was preliminary and may not lead to a formal offer.
Set up in 1997, Sainsbury’s Bank has over 2mln customers and was originally set up as a joint venture between the grocer and Lloyd’s Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY), with Sainsbury’s paying GBP260mln for full control of the entity in 2013.
It is also not the only supermarket to branch out into financial services, with competitors Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and the Co-op Group having the own banking divisions as well as other branches such as mobile networks and funeral care.
The acquisition, if NatWest pulls it off, will mark something of a new chapter in the recent history of the bank, which following its government bailout over a decade ago was barred from paying dividends and making acquisitions, although the restrictions have been relaxed over the last five years.
NatWest shares jumped 3.7% to 149.1p in late-afternoon trading on Friday.