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RBS Sempra deal may close in New Year

THE sale of RBS Sempra, the commodities business owned by the beleaguered Royal Bank of Scotland, could be completed as early as January, sources said yesterday.

Four players – thought to be Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – have entered the closing stage of bidding. Although Deutsche Bank was reported to be a frontrunner, it is understood the field is still open.

RBS has been ordered to divest itself of assets over the coming four years by the European Commission under the terms of the state aid ruling imposed in November. Bankers have put a $3bn (£1.8bn) price tag on RBS Sempra, but it is thought RBS is hoping to get up to $4bn from a sale.

Sempra Energy, RBS’ partner in the 50/50 joint venture, will also sell its share if the synergies and price are right in what one source said would be “a clear outcome for all sides”.

Speculation has fallen on Deutsche Bank because BarCap, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley already have strong commodities trading operations. Earlier this week Anshu Jain, Deutsche Bank’s head of global markets, said the German firm wanted to break into the top five commodities players by 2011.