HSBC, others resume talks for RBS Asia units: sources

HONG KONG Thu Oct 8, 2009 6:34am EDT

A receptionist speaks on a phone at the lobby of a Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) office in Singapore March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

A receptionist speaks on a phone at the lobby of a Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) office in Singapore March 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

HONG KONG (Reuters) - HSBC (0005.HK) (HSBA.L) has resumed talks with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) over the purchase of the remaining retail and commercial units that bailed-out RBS owns in Asia, sources said on Thursday.

HSBC's re-started talks over the RBS units comes as Asia-focused HSBC is also involved in the sale of ING's private banking assets in Asia.

HSBC declined to comment.

HSBC and other banks have approached RBS and its advisers about the RBS auction after Standard Chartered's (STAN.L) exclusive negotiations with RBS expired recently, the sources said.

RBS is selling its remaining retail and commercial banking divisions in China, India and Malaysia, worth "a few hundred million" dollars, according to a source familiar with the matter. Previous reports put the value of those assets at $200 million.

Sources said talks with potential buyers were in early stages, since StanChart's exclusivity only ended within the past week or so.

The retail and commercial units in Asia were identified as non-core assets back in February, prompting an auction that has seen several starts and stops.

In August, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX) said it agreed to buy some Asian units from RBS for about $550 million. ANZ, Australia's fourth-largest lender, said it would buy RBS' retail, wealth and commercial businesses in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

ANZ will also buy RBS' institutional businesses in Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam.

RBS could sell the remaining Asia retail and commercial units separately in each country, another source said.

"RBS is in ongoing discussions with bidders for the remaining assets it has decided to sell in Asia and will make further announcements, as appropriate, in due course," said RBS spokeswoman Yuk Min Hui.

The bank is retaining the wholesale and investment banking business, as well as its international wealth management group.

StanChart declined to comment. Morgan Stanley (MS.N), RBS's adviser on the Asia sale, also declined to comment.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Chris Lewis and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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