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EU: RBS investors want review of imposed Williams & Glyn sale

 |  May 10, 2016

Investors in state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland want the British government to intervene in the bank’s seven-year struggle to sell a small business lender to meet European Union demands, which they say clash with UK taxpayers’ interests.

Several top 30 RBS shareholders told Reuters the requirement to sell Williams & Glyn (W&G), an EU condition of a 2008 state bail-out, should be reviewed because RBS has slashed its balance sheet and no longer threatens fair competition in the way regulators first feared.

Carving out W&G has already cost RBS, which is 73 percent owned by the UK state, more than 1.2 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) and investors worry the process is harming the bank’s recovery and delaying a return to full private ownership.

RBS has missed one deadline to sell W&G, which has a 5 percent share of the market for small business lending, and warned it risks falling short of a second at the end of 2017.

The Edinburgh-based bank is spending 140 million pounds a quarter to create an independent computer system for W&G, which currently generates around 6 percent of its income.

The project is all-consuming for 6,000 full-time employees, equivalent to 1 in 10 of RBS’ UK staff, and was described by its chief executive Ross McEwan as the most complex restructuring in global banking.

“It’s not helping the bank, customers or the economy. It would be better if they decided we could just hang on to it (W&G),” Arthur Sales, a private shareholder who attended the bank’s investor meeting last week, said.

Full Content: Reuters

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