Watchdog to bare teeth with PwC audit of RBS

THE Financial Services Authority has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to investigate former board members of Royal Bank of Scotland as part of its inquiry into the banking crisis.<br /><br />The FSA has asked PwC to look into whether the bank&rsquo;s board gave sufficient information to the stock market in and around the period of its &pound;12bn rights issue last year.<br /><br />The City watchdog is also thought to have appointed Ernst &amp; Young ahead of audits yet to be performed on HBOS and Bradford &amp; Bingley.<br /><br />Meanwhile, RBS has begun consulting advisers including Morgan Stanley about a possible sale of RBS Asset Management, the division that invests the funds of customers of Coutts, the group&rsquo;s private bank.<br /><br />The unit, which has around &pound;33bn under management, is worth in the region of &pound;500m, a potentially useful windfall as new chief executive Stephen Hester looks for ways to streamline the bank&rsquo;s activities and raise capital to achieve his state aim of returning RBS to standalone strength within three to five years.<br /><br />The bank is also looking for bidders for its Asian operations, with HSBC believed to be heading the list of suitors, including Australian bank ANZ.