The news will come as a surprise to observers, since it flies in the face of the announcement in August that RBS Insurance is to close two Glasgow offices with the cost of 440 jobs as part of a wider consolidation ahead of a probable flotation.
It has nevertheless been confirmed by two separate sources that the banking giant has been in negotiations for most of the year with Vertex, the company that was unveiled several weeks ago as the recipient of an IT outsourcing deal for Tesco Bank’s mortgage operations in Glasgow that will bring 200 jobs.
This was followed by an announcement by the Scottish Government last week that Vertex was to receive £1.7 million in regional selective assistance funding to create 368 jobs in the city – even though the group denied that such an announcement was imminent when it was contacted two weeks ago by the Sunday Herald. According to one well-placed source, negotiations would be “well down the line”.
The deals involve 4 Atlantic Quay, a 10-storey office block that overlooks the north side of the Clyde in the city centre. Vertex was last week close to signing a 10-year leasing deal for the seventh floor to house Tesco. It also has an option to lease the eighth floor, also for Tesco, and has earmarked the ground and upper ground floors for a deal with RBS. It expects to reach an agreement – which would also be for 10 years – with the bank by early next year at the earliest.
A further intriguing note is added by the fact that RBS is in the throes of vacating 6 Atlantic Quay, from where it has run its Direct Line operation for many years. Together with the closure of another office in St Vincent Street, it is retrenching the insurance operation to Cadogan Street, adding 200 to the existing staff to take the Glasgow total in the division to 1300.
The moves are part of the wider closure of 14 offices around the UK, reducing the insurance portfolio to 13 offices after the European Union ordered the company to offload the division by 2013 as part of its investigation into state aid to the banks. RBS announced at the time that the decision would lead to the loss of 2000 jobs UK-wide.
While Tesco is contracting Vertex because it does not have the IT infrastructure required to get permission from the Financial Services Authority to offer mortgages, it is not clear why RBS would be looking to outsource part of its operation. Other brands in the portfolio include Churchill, Privilege and Green Flag.
A spokesman for RBS Insurance said: “Pitched against an ever-competitive market, we are constantly exploring options that will help us achieve greater cost efficiencies. However, we do not comment on speculation and have a commitment to our staff that we will always tell them first if we are announcing any changes that affect them.”
A spokesman for Vertex said: “We don’t comment on speculation or rumour.”<< Archive
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