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Debt capital markets: Competition regulators weigh in on RBS

Caps placed on debt capital markets business; Unlikely to influence RBS revenues

A year on from the height of the financial crisis, European banks that have received financial assistance from governments face scrutiny from the European Commission’s competition authority to ensure they meet their end of the bargain when it comes down to remaining going concerns, and how they conduct their day-to-day business.

In a communiqué issued in July the EC laid out those conditions. First, aided banks must be made viable in the long term without further state support; secondly, they must carry a fair burden of the restructuring costs; thirdly measures must be taken to limit distortions of competition in the European single market.

For Royal Bank of Scotland, the new rules came home to roost last month after it announced the latest version of its long and painful restructuring. As well as obliging the bank to sell assets (in RBS’s case its insurance business and a stake in a commodities venture), the EC competition authority is now placing caps on how much business the bank can write within its capital markets division.

For the next three years, the EC will monitor annually the consolidated global debt league tables (comprising bonds, loans and project finance) to make sure RBS finishes no higher than fifth.

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