Spanish bank Santander, which has just made a £1.26 billion offer to acquire Alliance & Leicester (A&L), has said IT standardisation will play a central role in the merger and in delivering better efficiency.

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.

The A&L board has recommended the offer to its shareholders, and if approved Santander will put the A&L operations onto its own in-house platform, Partenon, which is Microsoft-centred and sits on an IBM database. It will also integrate other back office functions.

The move follows a similar strategy at Abbey, which was bought by Santander in 2004 and is now largely running on the Partenon platform.

Santander also recently acquired the Latin American operations of Dutch bank ABN Amro, the rest of which was bought by Royal Bank of Scotland and Fortis. It said that following these high profile acquistions, it would benefit from great economies of scale.

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

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.

Emilio Botín, chairman of Santander, called the recommendation of the offer for A&L “a significant step in the development of Santander’s UK business”.

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