Clydesdale owner offloads £1.2bn of risky loans

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National Australia Bank (NAB), owner of Glasgow-based lender, said tonight that it has agreed to sell a £1.2 billion package of higher-risk property loans.

The sale, to Cerberus Global Investors, will generate a “small gain” for the Melbourne-based group, which recently admitted it was planning to exit the UK as an “absolute priority”.

Following the deal, the balance of NAB’s UK commercial real estate (CRE) portfolio will fall to £836 million, compared with £5.6bn in October 2012, when it was transferred from Clydesdale for run-off.

Group chief executive Andrew Thorburn said: “This is an important step forward, effectively bringing closure to one of our legacy positions.

“The sale of these higher-risk loans in the NAB UK CRE portfolio is another important milestone in our strategy of reducing our low-returning legacy assets and sharpening our focus on our core Australian and New Zealand franchises.”

Thorburn, who took charge at NAB in August, said the remaining CRE loans were largely “strong-performing” and the group was looking at other options to manage the portfolio.