The current bank M&A market is too hostile for Royal Bank of Scotland to consider completely selling off its U.S. subsidiary, the incoming chief executive of that unit says.
"Even if you wanted to do something, now would not be the time to do anything," Bruce Van Saun, the group finance director for RBS and the next head of its Citizens Financial Group, said in a presentation on Monday.
On Oct. 1, Van Saun will replace retiring Citizens CEO Ellen Alemany, with the mandate to oversee a partial public offering of the Providence, R.I., unit. He reiterated on Monday that the offering was still planned for late 2014 or early 2015, but had to again answer questions about why RBS is not openly trying to sell all of Citizens.
"We look at all options [and] we've certainly considered that from time to time," Van Saun said in response to a question at a financial services conference in New York hosted by Barclays.
But he said that selling the bank would not provide good value to RBS, in part because the prices for bank stocks are still depressed and in part because the British parent company would see limited benefits to its capital levels from the sale. RBS is still 81% owned by the U.K. government.
Finally, "the list of potential buyers today is quite thin," Van Saun said. "We're just focused on getting the performance up, and getting that IPO done, which will demonstrate the value of the assets."