RBS Building London UK
RBS Eyes Selling US Retail Business to Japanese Banks Reuters

The Royal Bank of Scotland is in contact with two Japanese banks in a bid to sell its US retail business, Citizens Group, and shore up its battered balance sheet.

RBS is in contact with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group has also considered a bid of an undisclosed amount, according to unnamed sources, cited by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

The sources add that RBS hopes to close the deal by the end of this year.

RBS received a taxpayer funded £45bn (€54bn, $73bn) bailout in 2008, which eventually led it to be 81% owned by the government.

In 2013, it lost £8.2bn but still awarded staff £576m in bonuses for that year.

The bank has also been riddled with scandals and in January, it was hit by a £3bn charge for a raft of legacy issues.

RBS Scandals

Following the credit crisis, RBS has been rocked by numerous scandals, from market manipulation, to mass mis-selling, to nationwide IT failures.

In February 2013, RBS agreed to pay £390m to settle US and UK charges related to the manipulation of the benchmark lending rate known as Libor, as well as pleading guilty to a criminal charge of wire fraud from a Japanese subsidiary.

At the end of November last year, the FCA has asked a number of banks to confirm that they have not engaged in similar practices to those allegedly followed by RBS in which businesses were engineered into default while the firm profited from them.

Lawrence Tomlinson, an adviser to Britain's business secretary Vince Cable, claimed that RBS pushed businesses into default after moving them into its Global Restructuring Group (GRG).

The FCA only just kicked off its own review last month.

At the same time, RBS put aside another £3.1bn to settle claims over the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), mortgage products and interest rate swap agreements.

However, on top of all these problems, RBS is still having to tackle "decades of IT system investment failure," which left millions of customers unable to pay for goods and services or receive payments, after several service outages.

In tandem, the 12,000-strong RBOS Shareholder Action Group is taking the bank to court over allegations that the bank did not fully disclose its true financial condition prior to the government bailout.