independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

RBS chief under cosh to sell assets

Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester is being pressed by the British government to sell more assets and bolster capital as the treasury tries to recoup some of its £45.5bn (€53m) investment in the bailed-out lender.

RBS will this week announce plans to sell a stake in Citizens Financial and shrink assets at its investment-bank by as much as £30bn, Bloomberg reported. As recently as August, Mr Hester said he didn't intend to sell the US consumer and commercial lender it acquired in 1988.

"RBS is clearly under pressure from the government to shrink and make the bank much simpler," said Ian Gordon, an analyst at Investec in London.

Mr Hester (52) has cut assets by more than £800bn, eliminated 36,000 jobs and scaled back RBS's securities unit since he took over in 2008. The shares are still little more than half the price the government paid for its 81pc stake when it rescued RBS during the financial crisis, the biggest bank bailout ever.

The owner of Ulster Bank is expected to post a net loss tomorrow of £5.16bn for 2012, compared with a loss of £2bn a year earlier.

The lender will sell a 15pc to 25pc holding in Citizens in a deal that may take two years to complete, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Irish Independent

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