Monday 16 September 2019

RBS may break up Williams & Glyn to help secure buyers

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's (RBS) headquarters in London
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's (RBS) headquarters in London

Richard Partington

Royal Bank of Scotland is seeking to sell a smaller chunk of its Williams & Glyn unit after failing to draw any offers for the entire operation, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The UK government, which owns 72pc of RBS, is seeking European Union approval for the sale of a smaller version of the unit at the bank's request, according to two people who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

RBS hasn't received any bids that comply with its EU mandate to divest all of the business, one of the people said.

The prospect of seeking concessions for RBS comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to trigger Britain's exit from the EU in a move that will spark at least two years of political wrangling. The bank had already put the government on a collision course with the trading bloc after revealing it would miss an EU deadline to sell Williams & Glyn by the end of 2017.

RBS has drawn interest in the 314-branch consumer unit from firms including Spain's Banco Santander and CYBG, which operates Britain's Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks and is headed by former AIB boss David Duffy.

No bidder is willing to buy six of Williams & Glyn's NatWest outlets in Scotland, said the person with knowledge of the matter. CYBG has also asked RBS to remove business customers that have more than £25m in revenue from the disposal because they are tougher to transfer, a separate person added. European Competition authorities demanded the sale of the unit as a result of the bank's £45.5bn bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

Analysts think RBS will probably remove some assets from the sale, to get it away. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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