RBS in talks to sell Australasian unitsto NAB for A$1bn

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The Independent Online

Royal Bank of Scotland is in talks with National Australia Bank to sell ABN Amro's corporate and investment banking operations in Australia and New Zealand. Australia's biggest bank said yesterday that it was considering buying the businesses but that there was no certainty of a deal.

RBS bought the businesses last year as part of its three-way break-up bid for ABN Amro. The bank has made it clear that it would sell parts of ABN that it did not want but the Australasian operations had not figured prominently in the list of likely disposals.

The news came a day after Zurich, the Swiss insurer, pulled out of talks to buy RBS's insurance business for up to £4bn. The bank is said to be in talks with other potential buyers for the insurance arm. RBS said: "NAB is one of the parties with whom we are in discussion. We are proceeding with examining options under our review process and will advise the market of the outcome once complete."

RBS already has a business in Australia which focuses on debt markets and risk management. ABN's business is broader and includes equities trading and commodities.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Nomura of Japan are also rumoured to be looking to buy the investment and corporate banking units, in a sale that could be worth up to A$1bn (£485m) for RBS. The bank is disposing of businesses to rebuild its financial position after the ABN deal left its capital strength depleted but the sale of the Australasian operations is said to be part of a planned trimming of ABN's operations.

NAB, run by John Stewart, the former chief executive of Woolwich, may want to beef up its operations in the face of competition from a planned merger of its rivals Westpac and St George.

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