Richard Partington and Brian Fowler
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc is looking to put most of its Asian corporate banking business up for sale, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan, 57, will hold a series of meetings in Singapore today to consider ways to scale back the lender’s Asian business, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the meetings are private. A spokesman for RBS in London declined to comment. The lender said last month that it’s shutting its Japanese trading business.
Since taking over in 2013, McEwan has been selling units and cutting jobs outside of the U.K. as he seeks to focus on the bank’s domestic market to help reverse six straight annual losses. RBS took bids for its Coutts International private bank last month and raised $3 billion in September by selling shares in its U.S. subsidiary, Citizens Financial Group Inc. (CFG)
The bank has about 2,000 employees in the Asia-Pacific region that could be affected, said the person with knowledge of the matter. RBS would probably keep some operations in Singapore offering clients dollar, euro and yen fixed-income products, the person added.
RBS’s corporate and institutional banking division is led in the Asia-Pacific region by Pierre Ferland, who is responsible for a 10-country network offering clients foreign exchange, interest rates, fixed income, debt capital markets and transaction services, according to the lender’s website.
The 80 percent taxpayer-owned lender is selling assets outside of the U.K. to help boost capital as McEwan plans to return RBS to full private ownership. The bank last year dismissed most of its team overseeing debt capital markets in central and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa amid a review of operations outside the U.K.
RBS had 27 billion pounds ($40.9 billion) of credit risk assets in the Asia-Pacific region at the end of June out of 551.6 billion pounds of assets globally, according to the most recent data made available by the bank in quarterly earnings reports.
McEwan said in February he wants RBS to increase its U.K. assets from 60 percent to 80 percent of its global business as part of his plan to shrink in scale while boosting profitability. The bank had 302.8 billion pounds of U.K. credit risk assets, or 55 percent of the total, at the end of June. North Americawas the next biggest region with 101.3 billion pounds.