Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) on 16 June signed an agreement with the UK’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to acquire its UAE retail operations.  

The move doubles the size of ADCB’s credit card business, making it the UAE’s third biggest credit card providers, and increases its retail customer base by 250,000.

ADCB is self financing the acquisition, which Reuters reported in May as costing about $280m.

ADCB is one of the region’s largest lenders with assets of $43.6bn.

RBS’ retail operations consist of three branches, 51 ATMs and a wealth management business.

“This acquisition adds significantly to the two strategic growth engines of ADCB’s consumer banking franchise – credit cards and the mass affluent wealth management business – and the combined entity provides a perfect platform for building a consumer banking powerhouse in the UAE,” said ADCB head of consumer banking Arup Mukhopadhyay.  

RBS, which is 83 per cent owned by the UK government, is selling assets in countries where it is not market leader, as part of a strategic plan announced in February 2009.

RBS acquired the UAE consumer banking unit in 2007 after a group including RBS, Banco Santander SA and Fortis bought ABN AMRO Holding NV for an estimated $98.5bn in the world’s biggest banking takeover.

Emirates NBD, the UAE’s biggest lender with assets of $76.6bn, had expressed an interest in the RBS retail units on 30 March.

The acquisition remains subject to UAE central bank approval.