Source said lenders topped rival BBVA as the latter failed to provide better offer.
Santander and National Australia Bank are through to the next round of bidding for 300 branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland, pulling ahead of rival suitor BBVA, a source familiar with the matter said.
RBS has asked BBVA to come up with improvements to its original bid, but the Spanish lender remains in the running, the source said.
RBS declined to comment.
RBS, 83 percent state-owned after it was bailed out during the financial crisis, is selling the branches as a condition of winning European Union approval for its state aid package.
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