Metro bank speeds growth

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

LONDON: Metro Bank is step­ping up its UK ex­pan­sion af­ter rais­ing £50m of fresh funds from ex­ist­ing in­vestors to open more branches and grow its com­mer­cial busi­ness.

The bank, which launched in July, is now plan­ning to open 18 branches within two years, six more than it had pre­vi­ously tar­geted. It is also look­ing to beef up its busi­ness bank­ing di­vi­sion fol­low­ing an in­flux of cus­tomers, in­clud­ing a num­ber from Royal Bank of Scot­land that were due to be trans­ferred to San­tander as part of the govern­ment-backed bank's branch sale.

Metro's ex­ist­ing base of in­vestors in­cludes the bank's se­nior di­rec­tors as well as fund man­agers Fidelity and Welling­ton Cap­i­tal and a clutch of prop­erty de­vel­op­ers.

The sec­ond round of fundrais­ing was com­pleted at 900p a share, a 20 per cent pre­mium to the 750p launch price. Ver­non Hill, the bank's co­founder and vice-chair­man, is the largest share­holder, own­ing just over a fifth of the bank.

Metro ini­tially raised £75m to fund the open­ing of four branches in its first year and eight in its sec­ond. It thought this amount would see it through to its third year, when it plans to list on the stock mar­ket.

But stronger-than-ex­pected de­mand for its tra­di­tional bank­ing model, which aims to of­fer cus­tomers bet­ter ser­vice and longer open­ing hours, per­suaded it to ac­cel­er­ate the ex­pan­sion. Metro now plans to in­crease branch open­ings in west London and make fur­ther in­roads into Kent and Sur­rey.

An­thony Thom­son, chair­man, said it was also ex­pand­ing its com­mer­cial di­vi­sion "very quickly" af­ter busi­nesses had shown a greater ap­petite for bet­ter ser­vice than con­sumers.

"A lot of busi­nesses are in­ter­ested in mov­ing, not be­cause they want credit but be­cause they want ser­vice," he said. Metro's ex­pan­sion comes amid a grow­ing de­bate on the level of com­pe­ti­tion in the UK bank­ing mar­ket. The dom­i­nance of the "big four" banks is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing the chief fo­cus for the gov­ern­men­tap­pointed Com­mis­sion on Bank­ing. -PB News

IS­LAM­ABAD: Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Wa­ter and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf shak­ing hand with Am­bas­sador of Ta­jik­istan to Pak­istan Dr. Zubay­dullo N. Zubay­dov prior to a meet­ing at Min­istry of Wa­ter and Power. -On­line

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