ROYAL BANK of Scotland has sold its aircraft leasing business to Japanese banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group for $7.3bn (£4.7bn), marking the bank’s biggest disposal since its government bailout three years ago.
Sumitomo batted off competition from several interested parties including China Development Bank and Wells Fargo, ending a two-year attempt by RBS to sell the business.
The state-backed bank previously tried to find a buyer in 2009, but shelved the sale last year as the financial crisis made bids unattractive.
“Reaching agreement on a deal of this scale in such a volatile market is a significant success,” Bruce Van Saun, RBS group finance director said, as the bank attempts to pare back its non-core operations.
Dublin-based RBS Aviation is one of the world’s top five commercial airline leasing firm and currently owns 206 aircraft, leasing to 65 airlines in 24 countries.
The sale, which is being handled by Goldman Sachs, is due to be completed by the third quarter of 2012. It will see Sumitomo become the world’s fourth-biggest aviation leasing firm.
The current management team, led by chief executive Peter Barrett, will remain with the company.