Jan 13, 2015

    RBS 'looks to exit' Asian corporate banking business

    ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group is preparing to withdraw from its Asian corporate banking business and put most of it up for sale, according to a report by Bloomberg, citing a person with knowledge of the discussions.

    Chief executive Ross McEwan will hold a series of meetings in Singapore on Sunday to discuss ideas to scale back the British government-backed lender's Asian operations, the report said, citing the source, who asked not to be identified because the meetings are private.

    In February last year, Mr McEwan - who has steered the bank back into profit this year, after it made a loss of £8.2 billion (S$16.5 billion) in 2013 - announced a series of cost-cutting measures and disposals.

    RBS is 81 per cent owned by the British government, following a £45-billion rescue operation after the 2008 financial crisis, and is under pressure to focus on loans to British households and businesses, and help support the country's economic recovery.

    It has undergone major restructuring in order to pay back taxpayers' funds and eventually return to private ownership, and is stepping closer to doing both, having posted a £1.3-billion quarterly profit recently.

    The bank's 2,000 employees in the Asia-Pacific region could be affected by the withdrawal, Bloomberg said, citing the source.

    "RBS would probably keep some operations in Singapore offering clients dollar, euro and yen fixed-income products," the source added.

    An RBS official declined to comment.