DUBLIN, July 23 State-backed British lender Royal Bank of Scotland is considering selling its Irish unit Ulster Bank to a private equity firm, the Irish Examiner reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
The newspaper said private equity firms KKR or Apollo would be the most likely suitors in a proposed deal that would leave in place the current management team under Chief Executive Jim Brown.
The sale would depend on RBS taking over some of Ulster Bank's distressed assets and providing indemnity against future losses. Depending on such commitments, the price would be between 500 million euros and 2.5 billion euros ($673 million-$3.4 billion), the newspaper said.
It would not include Ulster Bank's operations in Northern Ireland, the report said.
Ulster Bank and KKR declined to comment on the report. Representatives of RBS and Apollo were not immediately available to comment.
Earlier this year RBS commissioned investment bank Morgan Stanley to advise it on potential merger opportunities for its Irish unit.
The biggest bank in Northern Ireland and the third largest in the Republic of Ireland, Ulster Bank has racked up losses of 2.5 billion pounds ($4.3 billion) over the past two years.
($1 = 0.5856 British Pounds; $1 = 0.7430 Euros) (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Pravin Char)