Standard Chartered and Australia’s ANZ are close to buying part of RBS’s Asian banking assets in a deal that could be announced as early as next week.

RBS, which reports first-half results on Friday, has been trying to sell retail assets that include 170 branches, with 28 in India and 13 in China, as it tries to shrink its balance sheet.

StanChart, which reports its first-half results on Tuesday, has been interested in acquiring RBS units being sold in China, India and Malaysia, while ANZ is closing in on acquiring assets in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. The assets are expected to fetch about $1bn-$1.5bn (£600m- £900m) for the stricken UK lender.

Details have yet to be finalised and a third bidder could also take part in the carve up, buying RBS’s operations in Pakistan. Habib and MCB, the local banks, have been mentioned as potential bidders.

HSBC, which expressed interest in the initial stages of the auction, is no longer in talks to buy the assets.

RBS put the assets up for sale this year after reporting the biggest loss in British corporate history. The bank, which is 70 per cent-owned by the government, made a loss of £24.1bn last year and is reducing its £2,000bn balance sheet.

Stephen Hester, the new chief executive, has set out a “self-help” plan that would shift a fifth of RBS’s funded assets into a non-core division to be sold or run down over the coming years.

Some £240bn of third-party assets, as well as £145bn of derivative balances, will be moved into the unit.

RBS signalled its retreat from Asia in January with the sale of its $2.4bn stake in Bank of China, and has also sold off Linea Directa, the Spanish insurer.

RBS’s regional retail banking platform expanded after the 2007 acquisition of the Asian operations of ABN Amro, which had built up significant branch networks in countries such as China and India.

The sale of the Asian assets has been complicated by RBS’s decision to retain wholesale banking operations in key regional markets.

There has been uncertainty about whether authorities in the eight individual markets would agree to rubber-stamp the transfer of branch licences to the potential acquirers, some of which already boast large retail networks in countries such as China and India.

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