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Who dares wins

Acquirer: Royal Bank of ScotlandDeal: acquisition of NatWestAmount: £21 billionDate: February 2000Advisers to RBS: Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs

The sheer audacity of Royal Bank of Scotland's acquisition of a bank three times its size sets it apart from other M&A deals in 2000.

Matthew Greenburgh, co-head of the financial institutions group at Merrill Lynch, which with Goldman Sachs put the deal together, says: "Here was a company bidding for another three times its size and they put into the bid in cash, in one form or another, almost their own market capitalization. In a regulated sector like the banking industry that is unique."

When Sir David Rowland, NatWest's chairman, finally conceded defeat last February, it sealed a fascinating chapter in the history of UK banking.

The story, as least in the public eye, began when NatWest's attempt to buy life assurance company Legal&General collapsed in the summer of 1999. That was all the encouragement Bank of Scotland needed to step in with a hostile bid for the beleaguered bank, followed closely by Edinburgh neighbour Royal Bank of Scotland.

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