The UK’s Lloyds Banking Group is planning to sell off its UAE operation, with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) the most likely acquirer, according to Reuters.

The UK bank, which is 40 per cent owned by the UK government as a result of bailouts during the financial crisis, has been shrinking its Lloyds TSB Middle East business following the Dubai debt crisis of 2009. The bank was one of the international lenders most exposed to Dubai World when it was forced into a $25bn debt restructuring.

Assets at the end of 2010 were AED6.1bn ($1.66bn), dropping from AED6.9bn at the end of 2009.

The UK’s Rothschild is understood to have been appointed to advise Lloyds on the sale. Lloyds started its operations in the UAE from a single branch in Jumeirah, Dubai.

In June 2010, ADCB paid $100m for the UAE retail operations of Royal Bank of Scotland, another troubled UK lender that was bailed out by the British government.