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CIMB Proposes Purchasing Royal Bank of Scotland’s Asian Equity Assets

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. (CIMB) has proposed to buy some of the Asian assets of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Britain’s biggest state-owned lender.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to negotiate the sale of “the cash equities, equity capital markets and corporate finance businesses” that RBS has in the Asia-Pacific, CIMB, Malaysia’s second-biggest lender, said in a filing to the Malaysian stock exchange today.

CIMB may keep about two-thirds of the workforce at the divisions after the takeover, said three people familiar with the negotiations earlier today. They asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The units up for sale together employ as many as 600 workers, according to the people.

RBS has cut more than 30,000 jobs since receiving the world’s biggest banking bailout. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester last month reported a wider-than-estimated loss of 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) for 2011 and is shrinking the bank’s balance sheet by selling assets overseas.

Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB is negotiating guaranteed compensation packages to lock in some RBS bankers under new ownership, the people said. The number of RBS employees that will stay with CIMB after the takeover may change, according to the people.

CIMB officials didn’t return e-mails and text messages seeking comment on the talks. Yuk Min Hui, a spokeswoman for Edinburgh-based RBS, declined to comment.

CIMB Chief Executive Officer Nazir Razak, seeking to build a pan-Asian financial-services provider, said Feb. 28 that the company was in talks to buy part of RBS’s investment banking and securities business in the region.

RBS said last month it plans to move its Australian fixed- income and currency trading business to Singapore and London. RBS was in discussions about the sale of its local equities and mergers advisory businesses, Andrew Chick, who leads the bank’s Australian unit, said in a Feb. 28 statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cathy Chan in Hong Kong at kchan14@bloomberg.net; Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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