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As government seeks global partners

RBS declines government bid to help Iran trade

RBS GogarburnThe Royal Bank of Scotland has declined to help the UK government build trade links with Iran.

British officials have tried to use the state-backed bank to provide finance that would help rebuild ties with the Middle East country following the lifting of sanctions.

The move comes as UK ministries seek new trade relationships following last June’s vote to leave the European Union.

The Treasury has tried to use the government’s influence with RBS and to a lesser extent Lloyds, in which it holds a minority stake, to help speed up trade with Iran, according to the Reuters news agency.

Iran is still struggling to access Western finance and banks, which is said to be holding back trade and investment.

RBS is said to have declined to get involved on the basis that it is “not really interested in the Middle East”, regarding it as a risk that it cannot take on.

Under chief executive Ross McEwan it has retrenched into a bank focused on Britain and Ireland.

Lloyds is similarly focused on the UK.

The search for new trade partners comes as a number of banks prepare to move jobs from London to other European centres to protect their access to key markets and regulators.

HSBC and UBS have confirmed they will each move 1,000 posts to Paris. Goldman Sachs has slowed planned investment in London from New York. JP Morgan is considering moving 4,000 staff.

The Scottish government has warned that 80,000 jobs – many of them in finance – could be threatened by the UK pulling out of the single market.

Some 360,000 people in Greater London work in financial services, and for the whole of the UK, that number rises to more than a million.

Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, said:  “London will continue to be the financial lungs of Europe.”


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