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Reports: RBS Close To Selling Asian Equities Arm To Malaysia's CIMB Group

British financial services provider Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS,RBS.L) is close to selling its Asian equities arm to Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., according to media reports on Sunday. The deal is expected to be finalized as early as this week.

The proposed sale includes the cash equities, equity capital markets and corporate finance businesses of RBS in the Asia Pacific across Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and India.

The deal is part of RBS's efforts announced in early January on strategic and organizational changes in its investment banking/wholesale business, while it will help CIMB become a major player in Asia.

CIMB had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RBS on March 1 to negotiate exclusively with each other and finalize the scope and terms of a sale and purchase agreement. The deal remains subject to regulatory approval.

RBS has been in the process of shedding its non-core operations to pay back the public funds it received in the form of a government bailout during the financial crisis in late 2008.

The strategic plan to sell off its non-core operations was announced in February 2009. RBS, which is 84 percent owned by the UK government, had received GBP 45.5 billion pounds of government funding during the global financial crisis.

The government bailed out Edinburgh-based Scotland-based RBS about three years ago after the lender was driven to the verge of collapse by its purchase of ABN Amro. The UK has been discussing the sale with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds for the past few months on diluting their stake in RBS.

Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB Group Holdings Berhad, formerly known as Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Berhad, is the holding company and listed vehicle for CIMB Group. CIMB Group is Malaysia's 2nd largest financial services provider by assets and one of the region's leading universal banking groups. The Group has the region's widest retail branch network with over 1,000 branches in 8 out of 10 ASEAN nations, and is the region's largest indigenous investment bank.

RBS closed Friday's regular trading session at $8.84, down $0.06 or 0.67% on a volume of o.47 million shares. On the London Stock Exchange, RBS.L closed at 27.64 pence, down 0.19 pence or 0.68% on a volume of 98.25 million shares.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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