Royal Bank of Scotland’s deal to sell 316 branches to Santander has fallen through.

RBS has been working for two years on the sale which was ordered by the European Commission after the 2008 government bail out of what was the country’s biggest bank.

The Spanish lender pulled out of the deal, blaming technical problems that have beset the complex and long-delayed process to take control of the branches. Santander had originally agreed to acquire the branch business from RBS more than two years ago.

RBS now have until the end of 2012 to sell the business as agreed within terms set by the European Commission.

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