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RBS 'likely to undergo breakup'

12/08/13

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) could find its business being broken up following a review commissioned by the Treasury to assess how best its development can be made to support the British economy, it has been claimed.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that some £1.5 billion more in public funds could be pumped into the  company, which recently unveiled retail banking head Ross McEwan as chief executive.

Analysts estimate that RBS, which made a £1.4 billion pre-tax profit in the first half of 2013, would need to offer the government major amounts of compensation to get out of its current dividend access share, a mechanism put in place at the time of the 2008 bail-out.

Chancellor George Osborne has previously said he would support the idea of a break-up if research reveals whether it would support economic expansion and help the banking sector recover.

For financial services workers looking for jobs in corporate and investment banking, an increase in competition can only be a good thing in terms of the positions available to them.

However, how the situation will develop with RBS remains relatively uncertain. It is confirmed that the group is attempting to sell 315 of its retail branches in order to comply with  European state aid rules.

Three groups are to take part in an auction for the assets, with the leading runner expected to be former chief executive of internet bank First Direct Alan Hughes. He will head up a consortium comprising private equity groups Blackstone and Anacap.

The other two bidders are a group led by US-based private equity firm Corsair and a group of 20 UK asset managers led by former financial director of Tesco Andrew Higginson.

It is hoped this divestment of assets will further improve competition on the high street.

"With (Alan) Hughes this is all about making an offer that brings real operational expertise to create a challenger bank and real competition to the market," a source told the Financial Times.

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