A consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland has won the battle to buy the Dutch bank ABN Amro.
The ABN deal confirms RBS as the UK's second largest bank
About 86% of ABN Amro's shareholders have accepted a 71bn euro ($98.5bn; £49bn) offer to clinch Europe's biggest ever banking takeover.
The RBS consortium, which also includes Dutch bank Fortis and Spain's Santander, is now expected to break up the Dutch lender.
Last week Barclays withdrew from the bidding war for the bank.
The value of Barclays' offer fell with its share price this summer amid widespread turmoil in the banking sector, leaving it at a 10bn euro disadvantage to the RBS's mostly cash offer.
ABN is now widely expected to be carved up between the members of the RBS consortium.
The break-up of ABN will involve 4,500 branches across 53 countries and unravelling businesses ranging from cash management operations in Asia to retail banking in Brazil.
RBS is expected to take its wholesale and investment banking business and its Asian operations while Santander will get ABN's Italian and Brazilian units, and Fortis its Dutch business and wealth and asset management operations.
"For Royal Bank of Scotland it looks more of a challenge, especially as it is acquiring the business most affected by the recent market turbulence," said Bear Stearns analyst Christopher Wheeler.
Barclays' failure to pull off the deal will inevitably raise question marks about its future strategy.
However, many large Barclays shareholders were pleased that chief executive John Varley decided against increasing his offer for ABN.
ABN's management initially threw its weight behind the Barclays bid, but later withdrew its support, calling for a "level playing field" between both bidders.
The bid battle has dragged on for most of the year after a legal row over the fate of LaSalle, ABN's US subsidiary.
ABN's decision to sell LaSalle to Bank of America was challenged by a Dutch shareholders' group, but the sell-off was upheld by a Dutch court.