Billionaire John Grayken’s Lone Star is among private equity firms lining up for all or parts of NatWest Group Plc’s Irish retail unit Ulster Bank, according to people familiar with the matter.
Lone Star, which owns Germany’s IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG, and Portugal’s Novo Banco SA, is working with advisers to study a bid for the assets, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Ulster controls a loan book of about 21 billion euros ($25.3 billion).
Natwest said last year it’s considering “strategic options” for Ulster. Ulster has mostly struggled after helping fund the Irish real-estate bubble more than a decade ago, which resulted in a rescue from the former Royal Bank of Scotland, itself nationalized by the British state. While previous reviews of Ulster’s future have ended without any change, there’s a growing sense the bank may opt to exit, albeit over a number of years, this time.
Other private equity firms are also likely to explore bid, with Cerberus interested in buying the loans should they come up sale, Irish Times reported in October. No final decisions have been made and Natwest could opt against a sale and the buyout firms could decide against bidding.
By Jan-Henrik Förster
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