Bank sold to pay ex-Hearts owner Romanov’s debts

The historic bank building could go for a knockdown price. Picture: Greg Macvean
The historic bank building could go for a knockdown price. Picture: Greg Macvean
Have your say

The former Royal Bank of Scotland HQ bought by ex-Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov for £20 million is among the assets to be auctioned off by Lithuanian administrators following the tycoon’s financial collapse.

Now on the ‘at-risk register’, the landmark building on St Andrew Square has been empty since the Russian purchased it in 2007 and is starting to show “signs of deterioration”, according to analysts at Register for Scotland.

Romanov’s firm Ubig got the building at the height of the property boom but failed to convert it into a boutique hotel and had brokered a deal with a would-be buyer.

But the sale crumbled after Ubig plunged into administration last November amid claims of financial irregularities. Today, insolvency experts said the former RBS estate – which includes an elaborate banking hall – could be bought for a “knock-down price” at an international auction.

David Rutherford, insolvency practitioner at Edinburgh-based Cowan & Partners, said Ubig’s assets would be liquidated and the former bank advertised widely for sale.

He said: “The Lithuanian administration process runs on a court system with someone appointed by the court to ­liquidate the assets of Ubig – ie, sell for cash – with a view to paying off Ubig’s creditors.

“It’s about realising assets to produce cash for the creditors.

“With a building such as this I would imagine there will be quite a deal going for ­someone given the uniqueness of the property. It would fully lend itself to becoming a hotel because there’s a large banking hall there.

“They will advertise and market it widely hoping to trigger an auction and get the highest bidder.”

A Register for Scotland inspection carried out three times per year has assessed the A-listed building as in a “fair condition” but also at “moderate risk”.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: “42 St Andrew Square is a Category-A listed building on the Buildings at Risk Register. We will ­continue to have discussions with The City of Edinburgh Council about finding an appropriate and sustainable use for the building.”

The main building dates from 1942 and remained the headquarters of RBS until 2006, when it opened its new Gogarburn campus. An adjoining building on West Register Street – used for RBS administrative functions – is a modern addition and is linked to St Andrew Square by a bridge.

It has been announced administrators BDO have a verbal agreement with Ubig to buy the Lithuanian company’s 50 per cent stake in Hearts.