End in sight for Access sell-off wranglings

Global payment system Mastercard and the UK banks are expected to conclude the sale of the Access brand for the knock-down price of 20m on Friday, killing Access in the UK.

Senior executives are coming to London to sign the deal before the Euro 96 Cup Final. Mastercard is a sponsor of the tournament.

The banks – Midland, NatWest, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland – will receive a share of the proceeds from the sale proportionate to their stake in Access.

The deal, which was to be concluded in April (MW April 19), stalled repeatedly as the banks and Mastercard wrangled over terms.

Terms include no new Access cards being issued and the banks being allowed to advertise their Mastercard products separately. It is understood the banks wanted to promote issued cards individually to compete more effectively against Barclaycard, which predominantly issues Visa cards (MW May 24).

A NatWest spokeswoman says: “We have reached an agreement in principle to merge the Access brand with Mastercard, but the agree ment has not been signed yet.”

Mastercard International’s executive vice-president of global marketing Joe Tripodi says that the brand in the UK has been subordinate to Access and conflicts with Mastercard’s worldwide aims.

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