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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK

Business: The Company File

Bank of Scotland goes to Europe

The Bank of Scotland wants to try its luck in Europe, not that its plans to set up a telephone banking business in the United States together with US preacher Pat Robertson have collapsed.

Bank officials said they were talking to a number of prospective partners both in Europe and the United States about setting up other telephone banks pojects.

The bank wants to export its concept of a phone bank, similar to the successful venture it created together with UK supermarket chain J.Sainsbury.

The bank's chairman, John Shaw, said: "We've grown as a consequence of creating new joint ventures outward from Scotland.

[ image: If the bank can make it there, it hopes it can make it anywhere...]
If the bank can make it there, it hopes it can make it anywhere...
"We're the leading direct bank in the UK. We're taking the same proposition to Europe and America."

The bank currently has about 36% of the banking market in Scotland, and urgently wants to expand its business into other countries.

One such venture is based in Australia, where Bank of Scotland is setting up an electronic bank together with Pharmacy Guild, built around the customer base of the group's 5,000 pharmacies across the continent.

Botched deal

At the bank's annual general meeting on Tuesday, bank officials had been contrite and offered apologies for choosing Mr Robertson as a business partner.

Bank of Scotland had pulled out of the banking venture after its UK customers objected to Mr Robertson's views on homosexuals.

On one of his television shows, the US televangelist had described Scotland as a "dark land over-run by homosexuals", and therefore in danger of "violating" its Christian heritage.

Customers big and small threatened to move their accounts to other banks, forcing the bank to cave in and abandon the project.

Now the bank will try again. Peter Burt, the group's chief executive said: "We will look for another partner for another joint venture in America."

"The fact that we chose the wrong partner doesn't necessarily invalidate the concept", he said.

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