RBS to offload US banking business

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The Independent Online

The Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to cave in to the demands of its regulator and outline plans to put its American retail arm, Citizens, on the market next week.

The Financial Services Authority has been pressing RBS to offload Citizens for some time and to use the proceeds to boost its capital buffer. The FSA is also believed to have instructed the lender, which was bailed out with £45bn of UK taxpayer funds in 2008, to concentrate on its domestic British operations.

Sources close to RBS suggest the move will be announced when the 82 per cent taxpayer-owned bank announces its full results for 2012 on Thursday. RBS is said to be examining a 15-25 per cent flotation of the Rhode Island-based lender in two years time, which could raise between £1.5bn and £4bn.

On Thursday the bank is expected by analysts to unveil a loss for the year of between £4bn and £5bn, due in large part to fines for Libor manipulation and the mis-selling of financial products to customers.

RBS has said that the Libor fine due to the US authorities will be deducted from the investment bank's bonus pool, but the banks is nevertheless expected to announce bonuses for traders totalling £300m. The banks is also expected to unveil plans for further cuts to the size of its investment bank's balance sheet.

Another lender in which the taxpayer has a considerable stake, Lloyds, will report its 2012 results the day after RBS on 1 March. The bank, run by Antonio Horta-Osorio, is expected to announce a loss of around £550m, again with a considerable portion resulting from fines for mis-selling financial products.

Mr Horta-Osorio is nevertheless said to be in line for a shares bonus of up to £1.4bn, although there are reports that he will be unable to access this remuneration until the bank's share price hits the level that the Government was forced to pay to bail it out during the 2008-09 financial crisis.