RBS Said Close to Selling Russian Banking Assets to Local Buyer

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc is close to disposing of its Russian banking assets to a local lender, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

RBS will probably agree terms of the sale with the undisclosed bank within the coming weeks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The Edinburgh-based lender had 1.6 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) of Russian assets at the end of June, company filings show.

Companies including Franklin Templeton Investments and BNP Paribas SA are pulling Russian investments as prolonged sanctions deepen the country’s first recession since 2009. RBS acquired the business as part of its purchase of ABN Amro in 2007, just before the financial crisis forced it into a bailout.

“We are exploring sale or wind-down options for our operations in Russia,” a RBS spokesman said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. The changes are part of efforts to become a “simpler, stronger and more sustainable bank, more aligned to the needs of our customers in the U.K. and western Europe.”

RBS, which is 73 percent owned by the British government, said earlier this year it plans to cut the operations of its investment bank from 38 countries to 13.

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