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Santander eyes £15 billion float

Source: Reuters - Mon 8th Feb 2010

Spain's Santander is investigating a plan to list its British businesses that would value the operations at 15 billion pounds ($23.6 billion), according to the Sunday Times.

A number of major institutional investors were sounded out on the proposed float of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and the savings arm of Bradford & Bingley last week, the paper said.

The move is one of several options being considered by the bank to raise capital as it looks at buying a network of 300 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Sunday Times report added that Santander would sell a minority stake of approximately 25 percent in the UK banking operations.

The Spanish lender might also consider a possible flotation of its U.S. subsidiary Sovereign Bancorp Inc in 2011 or 2012, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources.

Santander completed its takeover Sovereign Bancorp Inc last year by acquiring the portion of the largest U.S. savings and loan that it did not already own.

No one at Santander, the euro zone's largest bank, could immediately be reached for comment.

Santander's UK arm last week posted a 30 percent rise in 2009 profit, meeting its target of double-digit growth, as it grabbed a larger share of the mortgage and current or checking account markets.

The bank, which boosted its UK position with purchases during the financial crisis, said it now holds shares of around 10 percent in all core British retail markets - mortgages, savings and current accounts.

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