Tesco PLC, a supermarket chain based in the United Kingdom, said Monday it will assume full ownership of its financial-services arm by buying the 50% stake owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Tesco Personal Finance Group Ltd. offers credit cards, insurance and related products, and it operates a network of about 2,700 ATMs, according to a statement from Tesco. The company will spend £950 million (US$1.9 billion or 1.2 billion euros) for the stake from Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank and supermarket chain created the financial-services arm in 1997 as a joint venture. Tesco expects the arm to generate an estimated pretax profit of £240 million this year, up 16.5% from £206 million last year. The supermarket chain says assuming full ownership will enable the company to "to extend its financial-services business from a collection of popular financial products to that of a full-service retail bank offering more choice, innovation and value to customers, and better returns to shareholders," according to the statement. Tesco claims to have 6.9% of the UK credit card market.

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