RBS 'seeking buyer for firm behind Priory clinic'

Royal Bank of Scotland is sounding out potential buyers for the firm behind the Priory celebrity rehab clinic, it was reported today.

Royal Bank of Scotland is sounding out potential buyers for the firm behind the Priory celebrity rehab clinic, it was reported today.

Taxpayer-backed RBS, which owns a majority stake in the Priory Group, is said to be holding talks with a number of private equity firms over a possible sale.

The bank had hoped to realise its investment in the Priory through a stock market flotation, but has shelved the plans after recent turmoil in global equity markets, according to the Financial Times.

The Priory Group has a chain of private clinics across the UK, although it is best known for helping wean celebrities off their addictions.

It first confirmed aims for an initial public offering in January at a time when stock markets were rallying in a recovery since the financial crisis.

The move was planned to help reduce its debt pile and subsequently help it attract funding for future growth to meet a growing need for independent specialist mental healthcare.

The firm was expected to achieve a valuation of around £1.3bn (€1.49bn) on listing.

RBS was not immediately available for comment, but has reportedly started sale talks after being approached by a number of investors in the past few months.

It is not thought that any formal sale process has started yet.

A spokesman for the Priory Group said: “Management are aware that shareholders may consider their options at any time but are focused on the day-to-day running of the business.”

The Priory was founded in 1980 with the purchase of the Priory Hospital, Roehampton and it now operates over 50 hospitals, schools and care homes throughout the UK.

The reported withdrawal of its initial public offering marks the latest in a long line to be pulled after the return of stock market turbulence in recent months.

Budget fashion chain New Look, theme park operator Merlin Entertainments and travel services group Travelport have all put on hold plans to list so far this year.

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