RBS confirms plans to sell Queen's bank Coutts to Swiss Union Bancaire Privée

Emma Haslett
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No price for Coutts has been agreed yet, RBS said (Source: Corbis)

After much fevered speculation, RBS has finally confirmed plans to sell private banking arm Coutts International - famously the Queen's bank - to the Swiss Union Bancaire Privée.

RBS said under the terms of the deal, the sale comprises client relationships outside the UK - "relationships managed from Switzerland, Monaco, UAE, Qatar, Singapore and Hong Kong". Its UK private banking and wealth management operations will continue to be serviced by RBS through Coutts and its Adam & Company brands.

No figure has been decided yet, but RBS said the price paid will be "determined in part by assets under management on closing". At the end of last year that was SFr32bn (£22.3bn), with total risk weighted assets of SFr2bn.

The lender warned that the "resulting capital benefit to RBS is expected to be modest after writing off goodwill related to the businesses and taking into account anticipated exit and restructuring costs".

The news comes a day after RBS increased the chunk of US lender Citizens Financial it was planning to sell off, from 132.5m shares to 135m. The 81 per cent taxpayer-owned bank has committed to reducing the size and spread of its holdings, in an effort to focus more on the UK market.

Today Alison Rose, chief executive of its commercial and private banking arm, added:

Last year we set out a clear strategy to create a truly UK-focused bank. This announcement is another important step in that process. Following an extensive review, it was clear that the bank we are building would not be the most appropriate owner of the business being sold.

We gave careful consideration to identifying a buyer with the capability to take on this business in order to minimise the impact on clients and staff. We believe that in UBP we have found a good long term owner for this business.

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