Exclusive: RBS Eyes Worldpay Payout
The taxpayer-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland is in line for a substantial windfall from the sale of part of the payments processing business it was forced to offload as punishment for its £45bn bail-out four years ago.
I understand that Advent International and Bain Capital, the controlling shareholders in Worldpay, have appointed JP Morgan, the investment bank, to explore a sale of the company's US operation.
Such a disposal could fetch as much as $1bn (£620bn), bankers say, and insiders tell me that a large chunk of the proceeds is likely to be returned to Worldpay's investors.
For RBS, that would represent a rare piece of welcome financial news. When it sold Worldpay in 2010, it was allowed to retain a 19.99% stake in the business by the European Commission.
Although that stake has since been diluted to 18%, the bank could still reap a dividend worth tens, or even, hundreds of millions of pounds, depending upon the sale price and the proportion of the proceeds that is paid out to shareholders.
Worldpay, which is one of the world's largest electronic payments processing companies, operates in more than 40 countries.
It said this year that its US revenues fell by 3.6% in the first half of the year following a "strategic decision to withdraw from certain unprofitable market segments".
RBS sold Worldpay for about £1.7bn in a deal structured to provide the former owner with additional payments worth up to £200m if the business met unspecified performance thresholds.
RBS and Worldpay declined to comment.