RBS Exiting Corporate Debt, DCM Business in Middle East

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest taxpayer-owned lender, is exiting its corporate loans and debt capital markets business in the Middle East and Africa.

The move is part of Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan’s decision last February to make RBS a smaller, more focused bank, an RBS spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News, without giving more information.

McEwan, 57, has been cutting back investment-banking operations and focusing on domestic customers to reverse six straight years of losses. Jacco Keijzer, RBS’s head of debt capital markets for the Middle East and Africa based in Dubai, left the lender earlier this month, the spokeswoman said.

The lender’s loan book, which runs into several billions of dollars, has been broken up and is being offered in parts after a sale as a whole elicited no response, according to two people with knowledge of the offer, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The bank said in August that it’s considering selling the international arm of its Coutts private bank to focus on wealthy U.K. clients.

Other U.K.-based banks have also pulled out of the region. Barclays Plc agreed to sell its retail banking business in the United Arab Emirates in April to Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC for 650 million dirhams ($177 million). Lloyds Banking Group Plc sold its consumer and commercial-banking business in the U.A.E. to HSBC Holdings Plc for $769 million in 2012, while RBS itself sold its retail banking business to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC in 2010.

RBS is one of the biggest lenders to state-owned Dubai World, which roiled global markets in 2009 by announcing plans to freeze payments on about $26 billion of debt. The bank worked on bond issues for Emirates Telecommunications Corp. and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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