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HSBCto snap up RBS assets

HSBC Holdings is understood to be in talks to buy the Asian banking assets of stricken rival Royal Bank of Scotland.<br /><br />RBS is trying to offload its Chinese, Indian and Malaysian retail and commercial banking assets to pay back some of the government&rsquo;s giant &pound;37bn bailout.<br /><br />Talks between RBS and Standard Chartered over the assets broke down at the weekend, after the banks failed to agree on a price.<br /><br />That leaves HSBC, which already has a strong focus in Asia, as the frontrunner. Chairman Stephen Green is now said to be haggling over the price.<br /><br />HSBC has fared well during the credit crunch. It launched a massive &pound;12bn rights issue earlier this year to build a war chest to fund acquisitions of banking units from weaker rivals.<br /><br />&ldquo;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,&rdquo; an RBS spokeswoman said yesterday.<br /><br />Standard Chartered&rsquo;s attempt to snap up the assets failed because it was willing to pay about $200m &ndash; much less than RBS was holding out for.<br /><br /><strong>ABN AMRO FORCED TO DELAY ITS ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND PLANS</strong><br /><br />NATIONALISED Dutch bank ABN AMRO postponed the legal separation of some assets owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), delaying a key step in its restructuring by several months.<br /><br />The bank said it now expects the separation to occur in the first quarter of 2010 at the earliest instead of by the end of this year.<br /><br />It needs to separate the assets to enable it to merge with the local assets of Fortis before a planned flotation.<br /><br />An ABN spokesman said the process was complex and had never been tried before, which is why the bank could not meet its original target.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is envisaged that the legal demerger will take place in the first quarter of 2010 followed by the legal separation within two months,&rdquo;ABNsaid. In 2007, a consortium that included Fortis, Santander and RBS bought ABN for &euro;72bn (then &pound;49bn) intending to split it up. Before the allocation of RBS&rsquo;s pieces could be completed, the Dutch state nationalised ABN in October 2008.