Santander gears up to integrate Bradford & Bingley IT

Santander is preparing itself for a large IT integration project following the purchase of Bradford & Bingley’s branch and savings business.

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Santander is preparing itself for a large IT integration project following the purchase of Bradford & Bingley’s branch and savings business.

The purchase, for £612 million, comes as the government nationalised the UK building society and took on its ailing mortgage business. It is also two months after the Spanish bank announced a £1.26 billion offer for Alliance & Leicester.

Santander is expected to move B&B’s IT over to its own in-house platform, Partenon, which is Microsoft-centred and sits on an IBM database. It has moved most of Abbey’s operations onto that platform, and A&L is next in line.

But it could face a long road ahead after Bradford & Bingley’s IT was in June cited as a major problem for the company. Then, the Financial Times blamed B&B’s “hopelessly antiquated” IT, outsourced to IBM, for failing to provide proper visibility of the company.

The Spanish bank has made no secret of its ambitions to make big savings from standardising technology across its operations. In the A&L takeover, it expects to make £65 million savings from IT initiatives, £30 million from “efficiency best practices”, £25 million from operational improvements, and £35 million from central office and support service rationalisation.

In the last two years, nearly all of the Santander group’s portals and processes, and its applications and technical infrastructure, have been placed on the Partenon platform. In 2007, its cards and personal accounts businesses were moved there too.

It is now moving payments systems and its loans business to Partenon, aligning processes and training staff, and would see the benefits of an integrated system in the coming months, it said.

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