Citizens Financial’s IPO prices below expected range at $21.50-Reuters

(Reuters) – Citizens Financial Group Inc said its initial public offering was priced at $21.50 per share, valuing the U.S. unit of Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland at about $12 billion.

The IPO, which was priced below the expected range, raised about $3 billion, making it the second biggest in the United States this year after Alibaba raised $21.8 billion last week. Citizens IPO is also the biggest bank offering since the financial crisis.

Citizens initially said it expected its IPO to be priced between $23 and $25 per share. RBS is selling all 140 million shares in the offering and could sell a further 21 million in an over-allotment option granted to the underwriters of the offering.

RBS, which is 80 percent-owned by the British government, is hiving off the 186-year-old Rhode Island-based bank as it is under pressure from regulators and lawmakers to bolster its capital and focus on lending to UK households and businesses.

“Selling Citizens will significantly improve our capital position and help us to create a strong and secure bank…,” RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan said in a statement.

The British bank’s stake in Citizens would drop to 75 percent from 100 percent after the IPO. RBS has already said it intends to fully exit Citizens by 2016.

Analysts have said that once RBS sells at least half of Citizens, probably in the first half of 2015, its core capital adequacy ratio should be boosted by 2-3 percentage points, although the initial IPO is unlikely to have much impact.

Citizens provides retail and commercial banking services to about 5 million customers in the United States and ranks as the country’s 13th biggest retail bank holding with about $130 billion in assets.

The 186-year-old bank, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, was bought by RBS in 1988 and expanded with 25 acquisitions, including the 2004 purchase of Charter One.

It had 18,000 staff and 1,200 branches in 11 states across the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions at the end of June. It had a net profit of $479 million in the six months to the end of June on revenue of $2.6 billion.

Shares of Citizens are expected to start trading on Wednesday under the symbol “CFG” on the New York Stock Exchange.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs & Co and J.P. Morgan are the lead advisors on the IPO.