Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC is winding down its Greek operation and is looking to sell its USD5 billion shipping loans portfolio, Reuters reported on Saturday.
Citing finance sources familiar with the plans, Reuters said the move was part of the UK state-backed bank's efforts to shrink its international business.
Part of a wider strategy by the bank to shrink parts of its international business, the decision comes as Greece makes a final attempt with international creditors for a bailout and to prevent a financial meltdown in the country.
The RBS has been involved in shipping finance for more than 250 years and is one of the world's leading banks in shipping finance. RBS is the leading lender to the Greek shipping market.
Its Greek office - with an estimated 60 staff members - has played a pivotal role in shipping industry. RBS is downsizing its corporate and institutional banking business in the Middle East, Africa
, parts of Europe
and Asia as the lender, majority owned by the British government
, focuses on its home market.
British bank Lloyds Banking Group has also been exiting the ship finance sector and sold $500 million from its remaining ship finance portfolio in April last year. Greek ship owners are among the country's wealthiest tycoons and the sector has been a major market for shipping banks despite tough conditions.
RBS, which briefly became the world's biggest bank after an acquisition binge under former chief executive Fred Goodwin, has undergone a complex restructuring to focus on lending to British households and businesses.