NEW YORK -- Coutts & Co. Group, the international private banking arm of National Westminster Bank of London, said the New York State Banking Department has granted it a license to open a branch in New York City.

The branch is nominally part of Coutts & Co. AG of Switzerland, one of the 14 countries in which London-based Coutts is represented.

Banking, Investment Services

The company said its Manhattan office will provide banking and investment services to wealthy clients.

Separately, Coutts' parent announced it will withdraw over the next year from the French retail banking market.

The French subsidiary, NatWest SA, has 10 branches, 400 employees, and equity capital equal to $208 million, but has been losing money. "We are determined to concentrate our resources where they can earn good returns for our shareholders," said NatWest group chief executive Derek Wanless.

The company will concentrate in France on corporate investment banking, through NatWest Markets' brokerage unit NatWest Sellier, and on Coutts' private banking business, National Westminster said in a statement.

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