October 8, 2009 / 2:01 PM / in 8 years

RBC seeks deal to expand UK wealth management

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO is looking to acquire wealth management businesses in the UK as part of a global expansion of its private banking arm, the head of advisory at its UK wealth unit said on Thursday.

A new deal would mark a continuation of an aggressive buying spree by the Canadian group’s RBC Wealth Management unit.

“We definitely want to look at a transaction... We would look for something UK focused as we have now started to build our onshore UK business but we are also interested in the UK offshore space,” Phil Cutts, head of advisory for the British Isles at RBC Wealth Management told Reuters.

RBC has emerged from the financial crisis with a robust balance sheet and did not accept any state aid, leaving in it in a strong position to take advantage of a rush to sell assets by troubled rivals, Cutts said.

Last month RBC said it has reached a deal to buy JPMorgan Chase & Co’s JPM.N investment adviser servicing business but has not disclosed details of the deal.

Wealth management businesses make an attractive asset for banking groups with their steady revenue streams seen as an appealing counterbalance to more volatile capital markets and corporate advisory units.

Cutts said RBC will not rush into a deal and would only consider an acquisition that can be absorbed into its existing business model, ruling out adding branded, standalone units.

He acknowledged however, that current market conditions favor buyers of private banking businesses and that a window of opportunity may soon close.

“There is no doubt that there are a number of forced sellers around and a reduced number of potential buyers so now is a good time,” Cutts said.

RBC Wealth Management has some C$220 billion in assets under management globally.

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