Bank of Scotland Moves South –

Bank of Scotland has opened up shop in the center of Madrid’s financial markets, right alongside the French banks that traditionally have dominated the Spanish private equity market. The new office has been doing brisk business since May, having already written in excess of _100 million (US$97 million).

The six-person team is headed by Gordon More and Juan Carlos Gabilondo, and offers such services as acquisition finance, corporate banking, real estate finance, infrastructure finance and project finance. As the team continues to grow, there are plans to open new, bigger offices before year-end.

“We saw a mix of people applying for positions,” More said. “We are seeing more and more opportunities to recruit high quality people because of the high number of institutions that are being forced to cut staffing levels.”

More and Gabilondo have recruited a purely local team targeting the Spanish business community, finance houses and local banks. They have also recruited from French banks, which demonstrate considerable experience of working in the Spanish market.

Stewart Livingston, head of European Corporate Business, said, “We are one of the few banks that is actively expanding. Over the last 12 months our European team has grown over one and three-quarter times. The next two major European cities we will consider are Stockholm and Milan Italy has a lot of the dynamics of the Spanish market and so we should be able to transfer our skills.”

Another key part of the Bank of Scotland group, Banco Halifax Hispania, a mortgage and savings provider, has been operating in Spain since 1993. With the arrival of the Bank of Scotland corporate banking operation, Bank of Scotland is now able to offer its products and services to individual customers and major companies alike.

Gabilondo said: “We aim to bring financial strength, flexibility of approach and depth of market understanding to Spain and Portugal. If you add to that the financial muscle of the HBOS Group now Europe’s ninth largest bank we are confident that this will open up market choice for corporate customers.”