RBS in new investment bank disposals

Royal Bank of Scotland took another step in the pruning of its once-proud investment banking empire yesterday after appointing Lazard to sell off chunks of the operation.

The state-owned bank is under political pressure to cut back on risky "casino" banking after an intervention by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in December.

Its chief executive Stephen Hester – who has already halved the size of its investment bank since taking over – has pledged that investment banking will account for no more than a third of RBS revenues in future.

Sources say businesses up for sale include the equity broking arms of Hoare Govett – bought with ABN Amro in 2007 – as well as other equity trading operations with RBS's global banking and markets division.

Equity broking was a lucrative business in the boom years, but the sector has been hammered by low trading volumes as well as a dramatic fall-off in merger and acquisitions and initial public offerings.

Overcapacity has seen a wave of consolidation, including Investec's £230m takeover of Evolution and Canaccord's £253m swoop for Collins Stewart.

Lazard and RBS both declined to comment.

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