RBS closer to Asian exit

ROYAL Bank of Scotland is nearing a &pound;200m deal to sell off its remaining Asian assets, as chief executive Stephen Hester continues his efforts to streamline the lender.<br /><br />The bank is to sell its retail and commercial banking businesses in India, China and Malaysia to emerging markets-focused bank Standard Chartered, sources said yesterday.<br /><br />The deal would complete the bank&rsquo;s strategy of exiting its Asian operations, after it sold businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group last month for &pound;325m.<br /><br />HSBC has also been pondering a bid, but Standard Chartered is understood to be leading the race.<br /><br />RBS is selling off assets to bolster its capital base but is still expected to see the government&rsquo;s stake rise from 70 per cent to 82 per cent, once the bank insures &pound;317bn of assets under the Asset Protection Scheme.