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ANALYSIS: New banks on the block

Competition from banks vying for SME custom is about to get more fierce. This summer has seen the launch of Metro Bank, Britain's first new retail bank in 200 years, which claims it will gun for 50 per cent commercial custom. And before 2010 is out, high street giant Santander will have fully absorbed and rebranded Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank (ALCB) as part of its takeover of the entire Alliance & Leicester (A&L) brand. It will be looking to build on ALCB's reputation as a heavyweight challenger brand in the business banking sector.