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JP Morgan leads in RBS Sempra race

JPMORGAN Chase is in exclusive talks to buy the RBS Sempra commodities joint venture in a deal expected to be worth about $4bn (£2.5bn).

JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Australia’s Macquarie had each submitted offers worth nearly $4bn for the RBS Sempra unit by an early January deadline. JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank were seen as the frontrunners, but the latter is no longer believed to be in the running.

JPMorgan is understood to be willing to pay a higher price for the business, although details of the likely purchase price were not immediately known.

One source said RBS was also keen for a quick transaction and due diligence process.
JPMorgan’s commodities unit, run by Blythe Masters, has been expanding in recent years. The March 2008 acquisition of Bear Stearns significantly increased the second-largest US bank’s commodities business, and Masters a year ago said it was aiming to be a top-tier franchise globally.

RBS Sempra is 51 per cent owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been forced by European regulators to sell its stake. Sempra Energy is also set to sell its 49 per cent stake in the deal.