Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the biggest UK government-owned bank, is in talks to sell its retail banking assets in the United Arab Emirates to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, three bankers familiar with the deal said. The transaction is valued at about $280 million, according to two of the bankers, who declined to be identified as details haven’t been completed. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank is the UAE’s third-largest bank by assets.
RBS, the 83 percent government-owned bank, is selling assets as part of a global plan announced in February last year to scale back its international presence.
RBS acquired the UAE consumer banking unit in 2007 after a group including RBS, Banco Santander SA and Fortis bought ABN Amro Holding NV for about 72 billion euros ($98.5 billion) in the world’s biggest banking takeover. The sale of the UAE unit is subject to regulatory approval.
RBS will not surrender its U.A.E. banking license with the sale of the unit, which includes a credit card, personal and private-banking business, and the buyer will be a bank that already has a permit to operate in the country, Simon Penney, RBS’s chief executive officer for the Middle East and Africa, said March 4.
Spokesmen for RBS in Edinburgh and the U.A.E.-based bank declined to comment on whether a deal had been struck.
The UAE is the second-biggest Arab economy and its banking industry is the biggest in the Arab world by assets. Fifty-one banks operate in the U.A.E., including the local units of Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered.
Emirates NBD, the UAE’s biggest lender by assets, said March 30 it was considering plans to buy RBS’s retail unit.
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