Banco Santander IT is critical to rebrand

Banco Santander's migration of systems inherited with its UK acquisitions to its core banking platform will pay dividends when it rebrands its UK operations...

Banco Santander's migration of systems inherited with its UK acquisitions to its core banking platform will pay dividends when it rebrands its UK operations over the next year.

The Spanish bank, which has acquired companies in the UK such as Abbey, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester, will rebrand them as Santander by the end of next year. Santander said that all its acquisitions will be rebranded once they have been successfully migrated to its in-house banking platform, Partenon.

Customers of the different parts of the business will be able to use any of the 1,300 collective UK branches, which will operate under a single core banking system.

António Horta-Osório, CEO of Santander in the UK, said the switch to Santander's global IT platform has driven the brand change. "Abbey has moved to Partenon over the last three years. The experience gained from this major project has enabled Santander to implement a similar programme more quickly for B&B branches, and the group expects to complete the switch of B&B's 338 branches by July 2009. A&L's 254 branches will migrate to the Partenon system by the end of 2010."

"Alliance and Leicester will be rebranded last because the integration to the Partenon platform is more complicated," said a spokesman.

Bob McDowall, analyst at TowerGroup, said having a core banking system such as Partenon makes it easier for banks to rebrand acquisitions. "It could not have achieved what it has achieved without it."

Banco Santander's strategy is to grow by acquisition and integrate the IT operations of the firms it buys to its own in-house platform, which uses in-house middleware called Banksphere.

As well as rationalising IT, this creates cross-selling opportunities and improves customer satisfaction and operational performance. The platform uses a single database so all of a customer's relationships with the bank are automatically linked through a single view of customers.

Partenon was a differentiator during takeover negotiations with Abbey in 2004 because of performance improvements it offered the UK bank, as well as expected cost savings of £300m.

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