RBS Mulls Sale of The Priory

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) is mulling a private sale of health group The Priory, abandoning plans for a flotation due to turbulent financial markets, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

RBS has held talks with private equity groups over a potential sale of The Priory, favoured by celebrities for its rehabilitation services, but has not yet started any formal sale process, the paper reported on its website.

“Management are aware that shareholders may consider their options at any time but are focussed on the day to day running of the business,” a spokeswoman for The Priory Group said in an emailed statement. She did not elaborate.

RBS declined to comment.

Earlier this year The Priory said it was considering listing its shares on the stock markets to cut debt and fund expansion, but is thought to have shelved plans for a listing due to uncertain markets.

“No one is sure of IPO exits any longer given the way the markets have reacted over recent months so they are looking at a cash exit,” the FT cited a person close to the process as saying.

The move follows decisions by British budget fashion retailer New Look, theme park operator Merlin Entertainments and travel services group Travelport to shelve plans to list owing to market turbulence. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Carol Bishopric)