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March 19, 2009

Singapore: RBS’ retail, commercial banking units up for sale

Royal Bank of Scotland is selling its retail and commercial banking business in Singapore, but will keep its investment banking and wholesale business, the Business Times quoted RBS's chairman as saying.

Philip Hampton, who is visiting Asia, said private bank RBS Coutts, which has its global headquarters in Singapore, would remain in the bank's empire, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

But he gave no details of potential buyers or prices. Hampton said the bank was also looking to sell its businesses in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, India, Taiwan and Pakistan, but declined to disclose potential buyers.

"It's early days yet, we expect a significant level of interest from serious banks," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

HSBC, Standard Chartered and Australia and New Zealand Banking Groups are all considering bids for RBS's Asian assets, people with direct knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

RBS last month posted a 24.1 billion pound ($33.6 billion) loss in 2008, the biggest in British corporate history, and said the government's stake could rise to as high as 95 percent after it stumped up billions to insure risky bank assets. RBS employs 2,368 staff in Singapore, including 660 at the retail and commercial units.
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