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Abu Dhabi royals involved in RBS stake sale talks?

india Updated: Mar 27, 2012 21:59 IST
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Talks to sell a stake in Britain's state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are being held at the level of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

A source familiar with the matter said Amanda Staveley, a businesswoman notable for her West Asian connections, was advising the emirate's rulers.

"The talks have been going on for six months, and nothing is likely to materialise for the next few months," the source said, adding that Abu Dhabi could end up with a stake of more than a third, though it has not decided which of its entities would hold the stake.

Staveley played a prominent role in Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahayan's 2008 investment in another British bank, Barclays.

A senior banker told Reuters that the oil-rich emirate's sovereign wealth funds were not involved in talks at this stage.

"It's happening higher up," the banker said, adding that a deal could fall apart on price grounds. Two other banking sources also said that a deal, if it happened, would be struck at a government-to-government level.

"Abu Dhabi is always talking to parties to invest, including RBS. Whether it will materialise or not is too early to say," a source close to the royal family said on condition of anonymity.

A stake buy by Abu Dhabi would be the first move on a large financial asset by Gulf investors since the 2008 financial crisis, when regional royals and sovereign funds bought into Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Barclays.

An Abu Dhabi government official declined to comment.

Shares in RBS were up 4.3% by 1057 GMT at 28.9 pence, making them the top gainers on the bluechip FTSE benchmark.